The Confucius Institute (CI) initiative is a multi-billion dollar Chinese language program found in over 1,500 universities and schools across the world. As new Institutes open at a rate of one every week or two, a global controversy grows at academic institutions around the world as scholars, parents and others question the program’s political influence and purpose.

When Canada’s largest school board is slated to open the world’s largest Confucius Institute, the school trustees find themselves embroiled in this controversy. Joined by a former instructor, hundreds of disgruntled parents launch a campaign to have the institute closed and are confronted by supporters.

Doris Liu

Doris Liu

Into this controversy steps filmmaker Doris Liu and the result is her award winning documentary In the Name of Confucius

Five Questions With spoke with Liu about the challenges she faced in making the film which has its Ottawa premiere at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 30, 2017.

How did you get in involved in making this film?

As a Chinese-Canadian journalist, I’ve spent years covering news stories related to China and the Chinese diaspora in the Greater Toronto area. In early 2013, I read a Globe and Mail article about McMaster University closing down its Confucius Institute because of the discriminatory hiring policies against which a former instructor, Sonia Zhao, had filed a complaint. The story caught my eye right away as it related to the topics I was interested in: Chinese-Canadians, Canada-China relations, and education – I myself was a university teacher back in China and I also studied education after my immigration.

At first, I didn’t know much about the Confucius Institute (CI) although I heard of it long ago and knew it teaches Chinese language. I did a quick Google search and found lots of concerns and criticisms about the institutes, not only in Canada.

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