In a recent letter (March 6), Eamonn Dundon suggests that the University of Southern Maine should consider banning and expelling the Confucius Institute.

The writer probably has been influenced by various statements of Sen. Mitt Romney and other lawmakers warning about the Confucius Institutes, even including claims that the teachers are treacherous spies, etc.

The Confucius Institute at USM engages solely in teaching the Chinese language and sponsoring traditional cultural events.

Young Chinese teachers teach spoken Chinese, Chinese vocabulary and writing Chinese. This is hardly propaganda, though I know some oppose teaching foreign languages as such, campaign for English as the official language and are very upset when commercial credit card payment phones say, “Press ‘one’ for Spanish.”

The cultural events held have all focused on traditional Chinese festivals and culture, not on present Chinese government policies or propaganda.

Similarly, at the University of New Hampshire Confucius Institute, the presentations and lectures have been on traditional Chinese religions, such as Buddhism, traditional Chinese art and the traditional Chinese tea ceremony. The programs at USM and UNH will hardly convert students to communism.

I have a relative who is studying Chinese at USM. If the Confucius Institute were expelled, there would be no courses in Chinese at USM. Whatever one thinks of the Chinese government, it can hardly be denied that the Chinese economy is important in the world, that Chinese policies should be known and that some learning the Chinese language would contribute to U.S. knowledge of China.

U.S. and Japanese diplomats and professors at the recent Camden Conference (totally unrelated to the Confucius Institute) discussed Chinese economics and politics. It is worthwhile for students to learn about China. Some may even become China scholars. This is not the same thing as being brainwashed by the “yellow peril,” as it used to be called.

Val Dusek


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