Second Confucius Institute in Switzerland to begin in September 2012, in Zürich

Friday, February 10, 2012

A bit from this article in German:

In autumn in Zurich a Confucius Institute is to open its doors. Some professors from the University of Zurich voted against the project for fear of Chinese influence.

Since the government of the People's Republic of China made the decision seven years ago to promote the Chinese language and culture in the world, over 90 Confucius Institutes have been established in Europe November 2011 the first Confucius Institute on Swiss soil was founded in Geneva, and now Zurich is to get one of its own, with a planned opening date of September 2012.

There is great interest on the Chinese side. "Sino-Swiss relations have experienced a rapid, profound development in recent years" says Liang Jianquan, Consul General of China in Zurich. "We are pleased to be able to develop these relationships based on mutual respect and benefits to both sides."

The meeting of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zurich (Fakultätsversammlung der Philosophischen Fakultät) is not quite so euphoric. The group, with 136 professors and representatives, had to first approve the statutes. A third of those present in October reportedly voted against the project, a number the dean's office will not confirm. "There was a certain amount of reluctance from some members, who expressed concerns about possible political complications", admitted Peter Fröhlicher (Dean of the Faculty of Arts).

At the Confucius Institute itself will be likely no events that deal with critical themes such as the human rights situation in China. "The Institute will not be a place where politics is driven", said Liang. The Tibet question is for the PRC "an artificial issue", whose discussion does not belong at such a place.

In spring contract negotiations are to take place between Zurich and Beijing. Important issues such as the financing of the institute will then be discussed. It is usual to get start-up financing through the Chinese Confucius Institute sponsor Hanban, which is subordinate to the Chinese Ministry of Education, and financing of such institutes is usually a shared cost (matching fund principle) between institutes of two nations. How much the Chinese side is to pay is still open.


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