Carpio: Shut down Confucius Institutes until China accepts South China Sea ruling
MANILA, Philippines—Confucius Institutes, educational outlets funded by the Chinese government, should be shut down in the Philippines unless China recognizes the 2016 arbitral ruling that declared its South China Sea claim invalid, according to retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio.
“I think we should start to push back,” Carpio said at an online forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines early this week.
He said until China recognizes the ruling, Confucius Institutes “should not be allowed to operate in the Philippines.”
China has set up Confucius Institutes all over the world to promote the Chinese language and culture in a display of its so-called soft power.
In the United States, dozens of universities have shuttered Confucius Institutes in their campuses after the US Congress passed legislation allowing Pentagon to reject funding for Chinese language programs in colleges that host the institutes.
The presence of the institutes had raised concerns over their use in espionage and their roles in curbing academic freedom. Sweden has also shut down all Confucius Institutes over security concerns.
Carpio said China has Confucius Institues at the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University. The institutes, Carpio said, “can propagate their historical falsehood about nine-dash line.”
“They can tell students false stories about nine-dash line, but we can’t counter that because we don’t have our own institutes in China,” Carpio said.
Beijing claims to own the entire South China Sea based on its mythical nine-dash line, but this had been rejected in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in a case filed by the Philippines. China refuses to acknowledge the ruling.
Carpio’s comments on closing Confucius Institutes in the country came after the Chinese embassy in Manila released “Iisang Dagat,” a music video that was supposed to highlight COVID-19 cooperation between the Philippines and China, but instead drew outrage from Filipino netizens because of its subtle assertion of its South China Sea claims.
The retired justice said that China has been taking advantage of other nations’ freedoms as it denies the same at home.
“We have our freedom of expression in this country,” said Carpio. “We can’t stop the Chinese from coming out with their own music video on COVID-19. That is where we have to compete with them in the marketplace of ideas,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that the Chinese embassy here can release that kind of music video to give out their propaganda, while our embassy in Beijing can’t do that because they have censorship in China,” he added.
The Chinese, he said, can freely access the Philippines’ media and blogs, and advertise in newspapers. But it’s not the same for the Philippines in China.
Carpio said his e-book about the South China Sea dispute cannot be sold in China because of heavy censorship there.
“They can disseminate falsehoods here but we can’t counter it,” said Carpio.
“That’s why its people believe they really own the South China Sea since 2,000 years ago when the whole world knows that’s totally false,” he said.
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.