AS THE WORLD TURNS: News Weekly
, October 27, 2007
Chinese Communist Party gains foothold in Australian universities
A senior academic at Sydney University has raised concerns that a deal between Australia's oldest university and China's Confucius Institutes could compromise the university's prestigious reputation.
The University of Sydney has an "in-principle agreement" with Chinese education authorities to become host to an institute, but details are still be finalised, The Australian
Professor Jocelyn Chey, a former diplomat and now lecturer in Chinese Studies, said Confucius institutes were primarily propaganda tools for the Chinese Communist Party and should not be integrated into the regular academic system.
"I was concerned that the University of Sydney was entering into an agreement with the [Chinese] Ministry of Education without considering what the objectives of the Chinese side were," she told The Epoch Times
Sydney University will become the fourth university in Australia to house a Confucius institute, after the University of Western Australia in 2005, Melbourne University in 2006 and the University of Adelaide in March 2007.
Confucius Institutes are considered to be similar to France's Alliance Française and Germany's Goethe Institutes in the way they are government-funded and organised to promote language and culture; but, according to Adelaide University academics, Professor Purnendra Jain and Dr Gerry Groot, there are distinct differences.
"Those European organizations… locate their offices in normal commercial locations wherever their governments can rent appropriate space," they write on Asia Times
online. "There is no attempt to integrate them into their host societies via institutional link-ups."- from Shar Adams, " 'Soft power' to be applied on campus", Epoch Times, October 15, 2007.
;Europe - a childless future?
A year and a half ago, in a gripping interview with Die Zeit
, Matthias Platzeck, (German) Social Democratic party chairman, complained about the large numbers of Germans who no longer believe in the traditional German family, religion, and work ethic.
One need only count late-20th-century Germany's historically low birth rates, scant church attendance, and mini-work-weeks with early retirement and cushy pensions, to see the gravity of Platzeck's complaint.
Like Chancellor Angela Merkel, Platzeck is an East German and a trained natural scientist. Raised in the Evangelical faith (his father was a pastor), he left it early, only to return to it a few years before the interview in Die Zeit
At the end of his interview, a refreshingly candid Platzeck blamed low German birth rates on a contemporary desire to live "a fun-filled life in the moment" (Spass am Tag
). For both good reasons and bad, the typical German wants an untrammelled life, which child-rearing in every age and culture makes impossible.
In his best interview moment, Platzeck, echoing a more famous German, admonished his fellow countrymen and Europeans to let the tempting, ephemeral, self-indulgent moments go, and reach out for something larger and more lasting, what he called prolonged "joy in life" (Freude am Leben
Training a new generation in the way it should go, he allowed, is the supreme challenge of a people and a nation. Living for the moment does not help a society develop itself. It is children who give meaning to life. A society without children is a society without a future.
Let us hope that many Germans silently share Platzeck's challenging vision for his country, and will join him in the recovery of German purpose and nationhood.- from Steven Ozment, "Diminishing Europe", The Weekly Standard (US), October 8, 2007.