Thursday, August 28, 2014

THRAC and ATOT oppose Confucius Institute in Toronto schools

On a August 23rd THRAC executive meeting, THRAC voted to request that the Association of Taiwanese Organizations in Toronto (which includes THRAC) send an urgent letter to the Toronto District School Board to vote to end the contract with the Confucius Institute. This issue was raised particularly in light of a globe and mail article that suggests China may be pressuring the TDSB to continue their contract. Under leadership of THRAC, ATOT published the following letter below on August 28. Text follows:

To: Ms. Mari Rutka, chair of TDSB

The Association of Taiwanese Organizations in Toronto (ATOT) is a coalition of 15 different organizations representing all aspects of the GTA Taiwanese Community. We are writing to urge you to vote to end contract former TDSB Chair Chris Bolton signed to put a Confucius Institute in the TDSB.

There is a specific danger in CI that concerns us as Taiwanese Canadians. Because Confucius Institutes are ultimately controlled by the Communist Party of China, the worldview explicitly and implicitly presented to students in a CI class includes the assumption that Taiwanese are “Chinese” and that Taiwan is naturally part of China, defined as the People’s Republic of China. Over time, because of what they hear in classes in a CI, the next generation of Canadians will accept these assumptions as part of their own naturalized world view. This ultimately threatens the right of the people of Taiwan to choose their own future, by cutting off international understanding and support for Taiwan in the face of annexation threat from China facing our homeland.

Another concern is that texts used in Confucius Institutes use simplified characters, not the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the rest of the Chinese speaking world. It is fairly easy to learn simplified characters if you know traditional characters, but very hard to go the other way. This is not accidental. When simplified characters were introduced in China by the new Communist regime in the early 1950’s , and greatly expanded during the Cultural Revolution, one important goal was to cut the people of China off from any past books not “edited” by the Party, and remake “Chinese culture” their own image. Teaching Canadians only in simplified characters brings this cultural brainwashing to our Canadian children.

Oh behalf of the 40,000 some Taiwanese Canadians in the GTA, we appeal to you to stand up for Canada and not sell out Taiwan by letting the Confucius Institute operate in the TDSB.

Jean Chen, Coordinator of Association of Taiwanese Organization in Toronto