Correspondent in Berlin
The presentation of Xi Jinping’s biography, entitled ‘The most powerful man in the world’, whose authors are German journalists Stefan Aust and Adrian Geiges, finally took place last night in virtual format, but not sponsored by the Confucius Institute, as had been initially planned, but by the East Asian Institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen. The cultural event had previously been canceled by the Confucius Institutes in Hannover and Duisburguntil the leadership of the Leibniz Universität Hannover publicly called the rejection “unacceptable, strange and incomprehensible” and the authors managed to agree on an alternative program. Several German media attribute the cancellation to the Confucius Institutes receiving a brief instruction from china so that the presentation was not held under any circumstances, not because of the critical content of the book but because of “an almost cult-like veneration that prevails in China around Xi Jinping, who should not be spoken or written as a normal person” .
The Confucius Institute is a state-owned Chinese educational organization under the Ministry of Education. Its official goal is to promote the Chinese language and culture, as well as to facilitate cultural exchange. There are about 20 Confucius Institutes in Germany, often affiliated with universities, which constitutes an anomaly in relation to the cultural institutes of other countries. “Any attempt by foreign governments to exert political influence on research, teaching and public relations work at Leibniz University must be strictly rejected,” said the University’s leadership after the incident, which will speak to the board of directors of the Leibniz University. Confucius Institute to reassess her cooperation and invited the authors and publisher to catch up on the reading “with her as host.” “In Germany there is freedom of science and freedom of expression. All who live and teach with us should be aware of this. Therefore, canceling the conference at the two Confucius Institutes is not acceptable, ”added Lower Saxony Science Minister Björn Thümler.
Since its inception in 2004, the Confucius Institutes have multiplied to over 500 and have been consolidated as a ‘soft power’ tool that raises suspicions in several Western countries. In 2019, Belgium withdrew its visa to the Chinese academic who headed the Confucius Institute in Brussels and the EU banned him from entering the Schengen area for eight years, after the newspaper ‘De Morgen’ reported that the Belgian authorities had evidence that Song Ximing was guilty of “undermining national security.” These suspicions became widespread as of 2017, as a result of article 7 of the new Chinese Espionage Law, which establishes that any Chinese citizen or Chinese company is obliged to provide support to Chinese intelligence agencies. This year China has given another twist to this legislation and has launched a new regulation that obliges companies and institutions to train your employees on intelligence and to register and communicate every step they take in trips and activities abroad, as published by the ‘Global Times’, one of the propaganda organs of Beijing and dependent on the Chinese Communist Party.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism