Last week McMaster University announced it will close its Confucius Institue. That's after a teacher at the CI filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The mediation between the employee and McMaster will happen tomorrow. Here's more.
On Thursday McMaster University will appear for mediation at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
The university will try to reach an agreement with a former Confucius Institute (CI) teacher at McMaster who filed a complaint with the tribunal for discrimination.
Sonia Zhao practices Falun Gong. She came to McMaster from China as a teacher with the Confucius Institute. The contract she signed at Hanban, the CI headquarters in Beijing contained this—a line stating that she can't be a Falun Gong practitioner.
Falun Gong is a meditation practice that is severely persecuted in China. When Sonia came to Canada, she had to hide her belief from other Chinese co-workers at the Confucius Institute.
[Sonia Zhou, Former Confucius Institute Teacher]:
"You just can't be yourself. That's how I feel for a whole year. That's my life."
Sonia says she only felt free after her term at the institution ended. That's when she filed the complaint.
Andrea Farquar, the Assistant Vice-President of Public and Government Relations at McMaster, told NTD news that the university was raising concerns with Hanban about its hiring practices "for a considerable time before the human rights case was filed. "
McMaster tried to reach a resolution with the Beijing Language and Culture University, with which it developed the Confucius Institute at the Hamilton campus. But after no success, the Canadian university announced last week it will close down its CI in summer.
The Falun Dafa Association of Canada was pleased to hear the news. The organization has been supporting Sonia in the case.
[Joel Chipkar, Spokesperson, Falun Dafa Association of Canada]:
"Our important argument is that the Confucius Institutes, through getting the universities to sign contracts, have become a part of that Canadian University. They're not separate legal entities, they're all one entity, which means that if Confucius Institute is discriminating against people in their contracts, then the university is actually discriminating against people in their contracts."
Confucius Institutes are controlled by Beijing with over 300 branches world-wide. The Chinese Communist Party publicizes CIs as institutions promoting Chinese language and culture.
But the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says they're part of China's efforts to extend its "soft power" abroad.