China blamed the cancellation of events for a German book on Xi Jinping – News Couple

China blamed the cancellation of events for a German book on Xi Jinping

China’s critics reacted angrily to the cancellation of events marking the publication of a new German book on President Xi Jinping at the apparent request of Chinese diplomats.

Confucius Institutes in two German universities planned to offer the book online, Xi Jinping – the most powerful man in the world Written by Adrian Giggs, Stern magazine’s longtime China correspondent, and Stefan Ost, former editor-in-chief of news magazine Der Spiegel.

But the book’s publisher, Piper Verlag, said the events were “cancelled at short notice due to Chinese pressure”. The company said that the Chinese consul in Dusseldorf, Feng Haiyang, had personally intervened to nullify an event, which was to be held at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Piper Verlag quotes a Confucius Institute employee as saying that “one can no longer speak of Xi Jinping as an ordinary person – he should not be touched or talked about.”

The controversy has refocused attention on the role of the Confucius Institute, an organization run by a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education that offers language and cultural programs abroad.

China regards the organization as a means to promote the learning of Chinese language and culture as well as to provide educational and cultural exchanges with the aim of “deepening mutual understanding and friendship” between China and other countries.

But critics see the establishment as a way for Beijing to spread propaganda under the guise of teaching, interfere with free speech at universities and even spy on students.

Reinhard Butekofer, a member of the European Parliament and an outspoken critic of China, called the decision to cancel events related to the book “outrageous”. Chinese bureaucrats [allegedly behind the move] They have effectively shown why the Confucius Institutes should be reined in and eliminated.”

“This episode should make it clear to every German university president that Confucius Institutes should not have a place in German universities or in any other academic institution committed to academic freedom,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Institute for Public Policy in Berlin. He added that they “pose a great risk to the reputation of the German universities with which they cooperate.”

Feng Haiyang, Chinese Consulate General in Dusseldorf

Feng Haiyang, Chinese Consulate General in Dusseldorf © Luo Huanhuan / Xinhua / Alamy

The Chinese Embassy in Germany said in a statement that the events at the Confucius Institutes “should serve the common interests and concerns of both sides and should be planned and implemented on the basis of comprehensive communication between partners.”

He added that China wants to develop the institutes into “a platform to better understand and get to know China objectively and comprehensively.” “But we strongly oppose any politicization of academic and cultural exchange,” she added.

Felicitas von Lowenburg, president of Piper Verlag, called the cancellation of the book’s events a “worrying signal.”

Ost said the situation confirmed the basic premise of his book and that of Gage’s. “Not only is the dictatorship trying to beat the West economically, it’s also trying to push its values ​​internationally – values ​​that target our freedom,” he said.

The events were supposed to take place this week at the Confucius Institute at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Leibniz Confucius Institute in Hanover. Piper Verlag said the presentation in Duisburg-Essen was called off after Wuhan University and the Chinese consul in Dusseldorf allegedly intervened.

In Hanover, it was Shanghai’s Tongji University, which jointly runs the Confucius Institute there, which canceled the event, according to Piper Verlag.

Leibniz University Hannover said in a statement that the event’s cancellation was “unacceptable, worrisome and incomprehensible”.

“Leibniz University Hannover considers itself a global university with space for critical scholarly discourse and exchange,” she said. She added that she invited Ost and Giggs to read their book at the university.

The University of Duisburg-Essen said in a statement on Tuesday that it was “neither involved in the planning nor in canceling the book’s presentation”. “This decision is inexplicable to us and must not be repeated,” said the university’s president, Ulrich Radtke.

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