Just how effective are the Confucius Institutes in promoting China’s soft power, its culture and language, in South Africa?
A newly released empirical paper by an academic based at the London School of Economics has delved into this question. Maddalena Procopio, a PhD candidate in international relations, concludes that the institutes “are only partially effective as a tool providing support for China’s rise”.
This is largely because South African university executives are suspicious of the institutes’ aims and don’t take them seriously, despite allowing them to set up base.
Unlike in South Africa, where universities maintain their autonomy from the government, Hanban — an agency of the Chinese education ministry — controls the Confucius Institutes.