Monday 13 May 2024

China's Confucius Institutes flourish in ASEAN after West's freeze-out (西方冷落后中国孔子学院在东盟蓬勃发展)

 Geopolitical baggage less of a factor, while learning Chinese is seen as a smart move

地缘政治包袱影响较小,学习中文被视为明智之举

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/China-s-Confucius-Institutes-flourish-in-ASEAN-after-West-s-freeze-out



Cambodia's National University of Battambang is home to one of the country's three Confucius Institutes. (Photo from National University of Battambang website)

ELAINE CHAN, Contributing writer May 12, 2024 12:15 JST

柬埔寨马德望国立大学是该国三所孔子学院之一的所在地。 图片来自马德望国立大学网站

ELAINE CHAN,特约撰稿人 2024 5 12 12:15 JST

SINGAPORE -- For Em Theara, learning Chinese at one of Cambodia's three Confucius Institutes means a brighter future.

新加坡 -- 对于 Em Theara 来说,在柬埔寨三所孔子学院之一学习中文意味着更光明的未来。

"Many Chinese people have come to Cambodia to set up business. Those who know Chinese will have more opportunities [for jobs] ... and the salaries are not bad," the 24-year-old university student said.

"许多中国人来柬埔寨经商。懂中文的人会有更多[工作]机会......工资也不低,"这位 24 岁的大学生说。

Em Theara is one of a growing number of Cambodians enrolling at the institutes, which are partly funded by the government in Beijing. They ostensibly promote the Mandarin language and Chinese culture abroad but have been broadly criticized in the West as channels for Chinese Communist Party propaganda, and many of them have shut down. But in much of Asia, including Southeast Asia, they have found more fertile ground.

Em Theara 是越来越多的柬埔寨人中的一员,这些学院由北京政府提供部分资金。这些学院表面上是在海外推广普通话和中国文化,但在西方却被广泛批评为中国共产党的宣传渠道,许多学院已经关闭。但在亚洲大部分地区,包括东南亚,它们找到了更肥沃的土壤。

Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, the official website lists 42 at present, up from 33 in 2021. Thailand tops the list at 16. Scores of Confucius Classrooms -- partner programs with schools and education centers -- have also been established across the ASEAN region.

在东南亚国家联盟集团内,官方网站列出的国家从 2021 年的 33 个增加到目前的 42 个。泰国以16个位居榜首。东盟地区还建立了数十个孔子课堂--与学校和教育中心合作的项目。

Sam Rany, the Cambodian director of the Confucius Institute at the National University of Battambang in Cambodia, said the institutes are instrumental in equipping people with the skills to engage in business and trade with China, thereby participating more effectively in the global economy.

柬埔寨马德望国立大学孔子学院柬方院长萨姆-拉尼(Sam Rany)说,孔子学院有助于培养人们与中国开展商业和贸易的技能,从而更有效地参与全球经济。

"This is increasingly important given China's significant role as a major trade partner and investor in the region," Sam said.

"萨姆说:"鉴于中国作为该地区主要贸易伙伴和投资者的重要作用,这一点越来越重要。

China is Cambodia's top foreign investor, accounting for two-thirds of total investment capital, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia. Chinese tourists are also the No. 3 source of foreign visitors, according to Cambodia's Tourism Ministry, which recorded a fivefold surge in Chinese visitors in 2023 from the previous year.

根据柬埔寨发展委员会的数据,中国是柬埔寨最大的外国投资者,占投资资本总额的三分之二。中国游客也是柬埔寨第三大外国游客来源国,根据柬埔寨旅游部的数据,2023 年中国游客人数比上一年激增了五倍。

"The employment opportunities provided by Chinese companies are valued by Cambodian graduates and contribute significantly to Cambodia's economic growth," Sam said.

"萨姆说:"中国公司提供的就业机会受到柬埔寨毕业生的重视,并为柬埔寨的经济增长做出了巨大贡献。

While economic considerations are a major driver for learning Chinese, the influence of Chinese media, entertainment and technology is also a motivator, Sam noted. The institutes' "role has expanded, transforming them into comprehensive cultural centers that wield soft power in ASEAN," he added.

萨姆指出,虽然经济因素是学习汉语的主要动力,但中国媒体、娱乐和技术的影响也是一个动力。他补充说:"这些机构的作用已经扩大,变成了在东盟发挥软实力的综合文化中心。

That brand of soft power has met resistance in the West as geopolitical tensions flare. The U.S., the U.K. and European Union countries have raised concerns that the institutes not only push the Communist Party's views on issues like Tibet but may even serve as vehicles for espionage.

随着地缘政治紧张局势的加剧,这种软实力在西方遇到了阻力。美国、英国和欧盟国家担心,这些机构不仅在西藏等问题上推行共产党的观点,甚至可能成为间谍活动的工具。

Many of the 498 institutes scattered around the globe, as of the end of 2023, are nestled in universities. This has raised concerns that their presence can undermine the academic freedom of the host institutions, which share a portion of the costs but may feel obliged to toe Beijing's line more broadly.

截至 2023 年底,分散在全球各地的 498 个研究所中,有许多都坐落在大学里。这引发了人们的担忧,担心这些机构的存在会破坏所在机构的学术自由,因为所在机构虽然分担了部分费用,但可能会觉得有义务在更大范围内服从中国政府的路线。

In an apparent move to dispel criticism and reduce political sensitivity, Beijing set up a nongovernmental charitable organization, the Chinese International Education Foundation, in 2020 to take over the institutes' operations. They had been run by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation, more commonly known as Hanban, where senior party officials had assumed roles as managers and board directors.

为了消除批评和降低政治敏感性,中国政府于 2020 年成立了一个非政府慈善组织--中国国际教育基金会,接管这些机构的运营。这些机构一直由语言教育与合作中心(俗称 "汉办")管理,党的高级官员担任管理者和董事会董事。

The rebranding appears to have done little to ease the friction.

品牌重塑似乎并没有缓解摩擦。

Since 2019, most of the institutes at American universities and colleges have closed, dropping from about 100 to "fewer than five," according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

据美国政府问责局称,自 2019 年以来,美国大学和学院的大部分研究所已经关闭,从约 100 所减少到 "不到 5 "

The U.S. in 2018 had restricted federal funding to schools that had the institutes, and in 2020 designated the de facto headquarters of the Confucius Institute network as a foreign mission of China. But the trend is not confined to the U.S.: Universities in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany have made similar closures since 2020.

美国在 2018 年限制了对设有孔子学院的学校的联邦资助,并在 2020 年将孔子学院网络的实际总部指定为中国的外国使团。但这一趋势并不局限于美国: 2020年以来,加拿大、瑞典、瑞士和德国的大学也进行了类似的关闭。

Ian Chong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, said the institutes are not as controversial in Southeast Asia because the region is less willing to challenge China.

新加坡国立大学政治学家伊恩-庄(Ian Chong)说,这些研究所在东南亚没有那么大的争议,因为该地区不太愿意挑战中国。

"Another reason is because states in Southeast Asia either remain authoritarian or have only been moving toward democratization over the past 20-odd years or so," Chong said.

"Chong说:"另一个原因是,东南亚国家要么仍然是独裁国家,要么在过去20多年里才开始走向民主化。

"Consequently, there is less familiarity and commitment to academic freedom as well as any challenges that Confucius Institutes may present to academic freedom. This is not to say that Confucius Institutes do not try to impose their preferences on discussions about the PRC, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and human rights," he added, referring to China's formal name, the People's Republic of China.

"因此,人们对学术自由以及孔子学院可能对学术自由提出的任何挑战不太熟悉,也不太重视。这并不是说孔子学院不会在有关中华人民共和国、台湾、新疆、西藏和人权的讨论中强加自己的偏好,"他补充道,"中国的正式名称是中华人民共和国。

Gauging the impact of the institutes and how much China's message resonates is difficult. For the first time, a majority of Southeast Asians now say they would choose China over the U.S. if forced to take sides in the superpowers' rivalry, according to an annual survey by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute published last month. Most respondents also picked China over the U.S. as the region's most influential economic power.

要衡量这些机构的影响以及中国的信息能在多大程度上引起共鸣并不容易。上个月,ISEAS-尤索夫-伊沙克研究所(ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)公布了一项年度调查,结果显示,现在大多数东南亚人首次表示,如果被迫在超级大国的竞争中选择一方,他们会选择中国而不是美国。大多数受访者还选择中国而不是美国作为该地区最具影响力的经济大国。

Half of the respondents said they distrust China, while 67.4% fear its growing economic influence. This suggests the region has not necessarily become pro-China and that many people have other considerations, such as anti-U.S. sentiment over Washington's perceived support for Israeli actions in Gaza -- the Israel-Hamas conflict was the top geopolitical concern among respondents.

半数受访者表示不信任中国,67.4%的受访者担心中国的经济影响力不断增长。这表明该地区并不一定亲华,许多人还有其他考虑,例如反美情绪,认为华盛顿支持以色列在加沙的行动--以色列-哈马斯冲突是受访者最关心的地缘政治问题。

Often, enrollees simply have more practical concerns.

通常情况下,注册者只是有更多的实际关切。

In Cambodia, university student Lim Sochanliya is learning Chinese at a Confucius Institute to become a translator. "I realize," she said, "that no other market or country can exceed the scale at which China trades with Cambodia."

在柬埔寨,大学生 Lim Sochanliya 正在孔子学院学习中文,准备成为一名翻译。"她说:"我意识到,没有任何其他市场或国家能超过中国与柬埔寨的贸易规模。

 

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China's Confucius Institutes flourish in ASEAN after West's freeze-out (西方冷落后中国孔子学院在东盟蓬勃发展)

  Geopolitical baggage less of a factor, while learning Chinese is seen as a smart move 地缘政治包袱影响较小,学习中文被视为明智之举 https://asia.nikkei.com/P...