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On China’s outburst over Confucius centres’ review, India pulls out 2009 rulebook

Indian security agencies had last month red-flagged the growing footprint of Chinese institutions that could be a proxy for the Chinese government or have close ties to the ruling communist party.

Updated: Aug 07, 2020 08:08 IST

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times New Delhi

The Chinese embassy on Tuesday asked India to handle collaboration in education in an objective and fair manner and “avoid politicising normal cooperation”. (File photo/AP)

India on Thursday rebutted Beijing’s attempt to attribute motives to New Delhi’s review of the Confucius Institutes, citing a 2009 rule that mandates cultural centres sponsored or supported by foreign organisations to seek the foreign ministry’s approval.

Hindustan Times had first reported the government’s move to initiate the review of Confucius institutes and 54 agreements signed by Indian institutions with Chinese universities.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the detailed guidelines issued in 2009 applied to Confucius centres also.

“Naturally, if any Indian institution were to enter into or has entered into an arrangement which would come under the purview of these guidelines, then it would require the approval of the Government. And as a corollary if the approval was not taken when establishing such centers, then it was not in conformity with the guidelines,” Srivastava said, without directly referring to the review of agreements signed by central universities and institutions with their Chinese counterparts.



Also Read: Security agencies red-flag Chinese fronts in education, not just power and telecom

Srivastava’s curt statement was a response to Chinese embassy in Delhi that this week attempted to pressurise New Delhi from going slow on action against Confucius centres opened without fulfilling mandatory requirements.

In a statement 24 hours before India’s higher education regulator and top education ministry officials were to initiate the review exercise, the Chinese embassy on Tuesday asked India to handle collaboration in education in an objective and fair manner and “avoid politicising normal cooperation”.

The Chinese statement didn’t have the desired impact. A government official involved in the process told Hindustan Times that they had gone right ahead to initiate the review at a two-hour-long meeting on Wednesday. “It is still work in progress and some more details have been sought,” the official said.

The education ministry review would, besides taking a close and hard look at the setting up of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in seven colleges and universities, would also review 54 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed between Chinese institutions and prestigious Indian institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The review came against the backdrop of the three-month long border standoff between the two sides, which currently shows little signs of abating. India has already banned over 100 Chinese mobile apps and its clones and barred Chinese companies from getting any government contract without a special permission.

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