‘The Confucius Institute Project’ – consisting of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, the posting of Chinese language teachers to overseas schools and universities and the Chinese Bridge language competition – represents an attempt by China to extend its influence globally through the use of soft power. Facilitated by a rapidly increasing demand for Chinese language learning, it has established a presence across the globe and made valuable contributions to the learning and teaching of Chinese. However, this has not necessarily led to an increasingly positive view of China, either at a political or a societal level. Through an analysis of official documents, interviews with those involved, a survey of Chinese-language learners and a study of academic and media sources, the author evaluates the aims of the project, and discusses whether these aims are being met.
Jeffrey Gil’s critical review of China’s attempt to gain further influence on the world’s politico-economic stage through promoting Chinese as a global language is a timely contribution that has wide-ranging implications for policy and practice. Its international perspective in particular marks it out among the emerging body of literature on the proliferation of Confucius Institutes worldwide.
- Li Wei, UCL Institute of Education, UK
The rapid expansion of Confucius Institutes promoting the learning of Chinese language and culture around the world mirrors the meteoric rise of China in recent times. In his thoughtful, balanced and accessible book, Jeffrey Gil skillfully evaluates the impact of these Institutes as a conduit for the development of China’s soft power.
- Bob Adamson, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
The mere mention of the Confucius Institute raises polarised reactions. This book presents a balanced, informative and highly readable overview of the Institute since its inception, in the context of the particularities of China’s soft-power initiatives. This is an essential resource for those wanting to know what the Institute is all about.
- Susana Eisenchlas, Griffith University, Australia
Jeffrey Gil is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, Flinders University, Australia. His research interests include Chinese foreign policy and Chinese as a foreign language.