​University of Arizona Launches East Asia Program

September 12, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

The University of Arizona (UArizona) announced this week that it would establish a Center for East Asian Studies. East Asia includes China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. UArizona is the only higher education institution in the state with an East Asia NRC. 

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) awarded UArizona $5.9 million to launch the program under its Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) Title IV National Resource Center (NRC) grants. 

The purpose of Title VI NRCs is to instill understanding of the countries featured by the center and teach one or more of those countries’ languages. Additionally, these centers maintain relationships with foreign higher education institutions and other organizations that contribute to each center’s teaching and research. 

Other East Asia NRCs are located at Columbia University, Stanford University, Ohio State University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Hawaii, University of Kansas, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin – Madison. 

For the 2022 fiscal year, OPE appropriated over $25.5 million in funds to NRCs. 

The establishment of a center focused on East Asian studies comes about two years after the mass forced closures of Chinese government-backed Confucius Institutes: a trio consisting of the Chinese government, a Chinese higher education institute, and an American higher education institute. 

Confucius Institutes pushed Chinese propaganda without academic freedom under the guise of teaching Chinese language and culture. In all, the Chinese government had a foothold in 118 higher education institutions. 

Along with UArizona, Arizona State University (ASU) once had a Confucius Institute. Under changes to federal law under the Trump administration, both universities closed their institutes. 

However, both universities have maintained their ties to China through other avenues. UArizona continues its relationship with China and their Confucius Institute partner Shaanxi Normal University through other departments, such as the Center for Buddhist Studies. Likewise, ASU continues its relationship with China’s Sichuan University.

While it had a Confucius Institute on campus, UArizona shared a comfortable relationship with the Chinese government. Three years into the institute’s founding, the university shared a news feature on their institute from CCTV: the Chinese government-controlled news station. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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