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Now, Sweden shuts China's Confucius institutes

WION logo WION 23-04-2020 wionnewsweb@gmail.com (Wion Web Team)
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As the pandemic takes a toll on China's ties with the world, in the midst of it, Sweden has shutdown Chinese schools in the country. The Beijing-backed schools were meant to promote the Chinese language and culture.

Also Read: China to conduct clinical trials on Pakistani patients for COVID-19 vaccine

However, now due to security concerns, questions are being raised about the Confucius institutes, one of which was closed in Maryland in the US earlier this year.

Sweden's relationship with China has been souring since 2015 but now it seems to have taken a definitive turn for the worse.

The Nordic nation has shutdown the last remaining school for Chinese language and culture. The Chinese state-sponsored teaching programme has been brought to a halt. The Confucius institutes are funded by Beijing. The textbooks used in them are also scripted by Beijing.

Sweden has clamped down on them citing security concerns. It isn't the first to do it. In January, the University of Maryland in the US too cancelled the Confucius institute affiliated with it due to allegations of Beijing trying to politically influence academics.

China controls what is taught in Confucius classrooms and censorship is strong. Topics like Taiwan's independence and persecution of Tibetans are completely left out.

The Confucius institutes are also accused of biased hiring practices as they allegedly favour only those loyal to the Chinese regime.

Now the Swedish government has chosen to do away with these schools altogether. It makes Sweden the first European country to carry out the closure. Experts say it's a clear sign that Sweden's attitude towards China has turned negative. China and Sweden have been at loggerheads over the arrest of a Swedish bookseller. Hong Kong-based Gu Minhai was detained by China in 2018 for selling books critical of President Xi Jinping.

Two months ago he was sentenced to ten years in prison. This, along with China's role in the coronavirus outbreak, is set to have damaged ties. It doesn't help that China is facing a global trust deficit due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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