Students returning to Arizona State University for the fall semester this week might notice something missing. ASU’s Confucius Institute, founded in 2007 and funded by the Chinese government, has closed.
ASU joins at least 15 other universities in closing its Confucius Institute in the past 18 months. The programs have come under scrutiny, with lawmakers and others voicing concerns about possible Chinese propaganda or espionage.
The Confucius Institute at ASU offered Chinese language and culture education, hosted academic conferences and partnered with a number of K-12 schools in Arizona to provide Chinese language programs.
The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2019 fiscal year prohibits universities from hosting an institute while also receiving funding for Chinese language study from the U.S. Department of Defense.
ASU applied for a waiver to this law over the summer, but the Pentagon denied the request to fund ASU’s Language Flagship Program while the Institute remained open, ASU spokeswoman Katie Paquet said in an email.
All similar waiver applications from other universities also were denied.
ASU is slated to receive $750,000 per year over the next five years from the Pentagon for the Language Flagship Program, Paquet said.
An archived web page for ASU’s Confucius Institute from May shows the quiet closure announcement: “We regret to inform you that as of May 31, 2019, the Confucius Institute at Arizona State University is closed. We thank you for your dedicated support to our programs.”
While ASU’s Confucius Institute has shuttered, Paquet said the university “will continue our efforts to build educational and cultural connections with the people of China.”