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孔子之争

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小编摘要:西方人怎么看待中国孔子学院规模膨胀的事儿。

The unexpectedly rapid expansion of China’s Confucius Institutes since their inception in 2004 has prompted many to consider them a soft power success story.


But such a quick rise is bound to lead to a certain amount of scrutiny which, combined with the general apprehension surrounding China’s increasing economic and political clout, has brought about a something of a backlash. Indeed, the institutes are—despite being defined by China as strictly tools for promoting ‘Chinese language and culture in foreign countries’—referred to by some as vehicles for spreading Chinese propaganda worldwide.


When I spoke to China scholar Don Starr on the subject, he told me he’d only just seen some news coverage of a group of people in California demonstrating outside of a Confucius Institute there, ‘saying they didn’t want Confucian classrooms and all of this communist influence coming in.’


Maria Wey-Shen Siow, East Asia bureau chief of Channel NewsAsia, noted this rising mistrust in the West in the January issue of the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Bulletin. But she says that although the concerns are ‘not completely unfounded,’ they also aren’t ‘totally warranted.’


For one, says Siow, the fact that there just isn’t much in the way of funds being put into the programme suggests that the Chinese government isn’t actually that invested in the institutes. The ‘Hanban’s annual budget was only $145 million in 2009, so it would be false to state that China has been spending massively on these institutes,’ she says, pointing out that the figure is significantly less than the British Council spends annually in promoting its programmes, and less than the cost of many Hollywood productions.


Starr also told me that another point undermining the notion that there’s an ideological agenda at play is that the programme just doesn’t touch on some key issues. ‘The Chinese are going to avoid contentious areas such as human rights and democracies and those kinds of things,’ he notes.


Daniel Bell, a professor of political philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing, also raised this point when I spoke to him.‘Personally I don’t see anything sinister about (Confucius Institutes). Of course, if they wanted to use the money to organize a symposium on Tibetan independence they might run into trouble. But beyond the obvious constraints, I think there’s not a lot to worry about.’


Kenneth Hammond, director of the Confucius Institute at New Mexico State University, agreed there isn’t very much going on in terms of ideological content. ‘We’ve not had any effort from the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing to shape or control the content of our work in any way,’ he told me. ‘We’ve had speakers from Taiwan in our speakers’ series, and in both the China-Mexico and China-Africa conferences there were very broad ranges of ideas and opinions expressed.’


Hammond adds that he also hasn’t experienced any of the backlash other institutes have experienced. ‘I’m aware that there have been organized efforts to oppose the work of Confucius Institutes in certain places in the US, but I think this is often the result of local political interests, and doesn’t reflect either popular concern about the programme or any kind of reality of the Confucius Institutes serving as propaganda for the Chinese state,’ he said.


Hammond says that enrolment for China-related courses at the university has remained strong and more students are going to study in China with each passing year. He says that while there’s bound to be ‘a certain amount of concern or apprehension about how China’s rise will affect the US in the coming years,’ in general, ‘people are responding to this by wanting to know more about China, and this is exactly the role our Confucius Institute plays.’


Chuan Sheng Liu, director of the Confucius Institute in Maryland, and Rebecca McGinnis, the institute’s coordinator, say they’ve had similarly positive experiences. When I spoke to them on the issue, they said that they continue simply to focus on allowing more people in the United States to gain a better understanding of China, a country that ‘only a few decades ago was largely perceived as mysterious and indecipherable,’ so that future misunderstandings don’t arise. They believe that the ongoing outreach of their institute ‘not only helps eliminate stereotypes, but will also lead to a better and more nuanced understanding about the Asian giant.’


All this seems to make sense, and after speaking to a range of people I’ve seen little to support the notion of Confucius Institutes as ominous propaganda. On the contrary, those involved who I’ve spoken with seem genuinely interested in promoting cultural understanding and better communication.


Chuan Sheng Liu told me: ‘Yes, China's profile is rising, and growing understanding has to move both directions. Small steps in an educational setting that promote and support exchanges, learning, appreciation, and thoughtful realizations about each others' strengths and values are a positive sign. There’ll always be those who focus on the negative side. But if we are to promote the ethics of Confucius, he was an upright and positive man of learning who believed that education was open to all.’

 

中国孔子学院自2004年开办以来出人意料的扩张速度使许多人开始把这视作中国软实力输出的成功案例。


但如此快速的崛起注定会带来一片严厉审查的声音,混合着通常会对中国快速增长的经济和政治影响力产生的忧虑,引发出一种类似后座力的东西。的确,这些孔子学院——尽管被中国严格地定义成“在外国”发扬“中国语言和文化”的工具——仍被一些人称作世界范围内的中国外宣工具。


当我和汉学家司马麟就这个话题谈论的时候,他说他只是看到一些新闻报道中说加州一群人在一所孔子学院外示威,“说他们不想要孔子课堂和所有这一类共产主义的影响进来。”


亚洲新闻台东亚主编玛利亚萧伟生(Maria Wey-Shen Siow),在美国夏威夷大学东西方中心一月号的《亚太公报》中提到了在西部增长了的这种不信任,但她同时说尽管那样的忧虑不是“全无道理”,也并非“都站得住脚”。


首先,萧女士说,现在还没有准备投入在这个项目上的资金被堵在半路上,这暗示中国政府还没有“那么”要给孔子学院投资。她说,汉办(汉语办公室)2009年的预算只有1亿4千5百万美元,所以说中国已经在这些学院上过度投入的说法是错误的,并指出这个数字显著地小于英国文化委员会每年投注在他们的项目当中的费用,也少于许多好莱坞影片制作的费用。


司马麟同时告诉我,另一个可以推翻“意识形态植入论”的点是,这个项目它就没触及一些关键的问题。他说明道:“中国人打算避免像人权、民主一类会引起争议的领域。”


贝淡宁,北京清华大学的一位政治哲学教授,当我和他交谈的时候也提到这一点。“我个人(对于孔子学院)没看到任何险恶的东西。当然啦,要是他们想要用这笔钱去组织一次关于西藏独立的座谈会,他们可能会撞上麻烦。但在离明显的约束以远的地方,我认为没多少需要担心的。”


肯尼斯·哈蒙德,新墨西哥州立大学孔子学院的院长,同意有关意识形态方面内容现在并没有什么。“我们还没有从北京孔子学院总部接到压力说要以任何形式塑造或控制我们的工作,”他告诉我。“我们的演讲人名单里有来自台湾的演说人,在中墨会议和中非会议上都有很广泛的理念和意见的表达。”


哈蒙德还说,他没有遭遇过其他孔子学院遇上的那种“后座力”。他说:“我意识到在美国的一些地方有反对孔子学院的工作的有形势力,不过我认为这经常是当地政治利益驱动的结果,并且既不能反映常住人口对该项目的考虑,又不能证明孔子学院作为中国的宣传工具的事实。”


哈蒙德说,大学里每年和中国有关的课程注册人数一直很高,过去的每一年中打算去中国学习的学生数也在上升。他表示尽管“在接下来的几年里”一定会有“一种对中国崛起会如何影响到美国的考虑或恐惧”,一般来说,“人们以想要更多地了解中国来回应这件事,而这正是我们的孔子学院要扮演的角色所在。”


刘传生,马里兰大学孔子学院院长,和丽贝卡·麦金尼,学院的协调人,他们说也有过类似正面的经历。当我和他们谈论这个话题的时候,他们说他们将只简单地把注意力集中在让更多人对中国——一个“仅仅在几十年前还被大多数人认作神秘莫测”的国家——有更好的了解上,由此使未来的误解不至于发生。他们相信目前孔子学院正在增加的服务内容“不仅能帮助打破陈旧的认识,还能让人对亚洲巨人了解得更好、更细致入微。”


这些看起来都说得通,和一圈人说过话以后我已经很难看到支持那些认为孔子学院是不吉利的宣传工具的人的理由了。相反,与我交谈的人看起来都真心想提升文化理解和更好的沟通。


刘传生告诉我:“是的,中国的形象在上升,必须在双向上都有更多的理解。在一个教育环境下推出和支持交换、学习、欣赏的小举措,和经过深思后对相互彼此的力量和价值的领悟,都是积极的记号。总会有一些眼神集中在负面上的人。但如果我们打算推广孔子的伦理学,他是一个正直和积极的学人,他相信教育是向所有人开放的。”

标签:孔子
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2011-03-09 12:54 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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