At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-Financed Centers Prompt Worries About Academic Freedom

Professors keep watch for political interference at 61 Confucius Institutes, but there is scant evidence of meddling from China

At U.S. Colleges, Chinese-financed Centers Prompt Worries About Academic Freedom 1

Brendan Smialowski for The Chronicle

Classes on the Mandarin language, like one at the U. of Maryland (above), are a basic offering of Confucius Institutes nationwide.

A little bit of China can be found on the University of Maryland's main campus here, tucked away in the basement of Holzapfel Hall. There, in Room 0134, sits the university's Confucius Institute, where the walls are draped with Chinese etchings and calligraphy, scenes from the Beijing Opera play out on a large computer screen, and people sit around a table learning Mandarin.

The institute focuses on teaching Chinese language and culture. But it also wants students to feel good about