Confucius institute draws ire for ‘I love you China’ photos of ethnic minority imposters

2021.06.09

Two human rights groups in Germany have joined hands to call out a local Confucius institute for showing disrespect by portraying ethnic minorities in a contented manner to cover up China’s oppression of Tibetans and Uyghurs.

A man and a woman feature in the promotional material of the Confucius Institute in Munich. The duo are dressed in ethnic minority costumes and wear faint smiles, accompanied by the words “I love you China” in Chinese and German, photos on the institute’s Facebook and Instagram accounts show.

What is more, they in fact belong to the majority Han Chinese race in China but have been disguised as a Tibetan and a Uyghur, critics say.

It is understood that the photos are part of a campaign to promote the Chinese nation, supported by the official People’s Daily and the private-sector website Tencent.com.

World Uyghur Congress and Tibet Initiative Deutschland, both of which were based in Germany, issued a joint statement on Sunday to criticize the false propaganda.

They alleged that Han Chinese employees at the institute created images of happy, China-loving Uyghurs and Tibetans to varnish over a massive crackdown on human rights in East Turkistan, which Beijing called Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Mass arrest, detention, abuse and murder of Uyghurs and Tibetans were a daily occurrence in the regions, the statement said, while the Uyghur and Tibetan languages were banned and the Muslim and Buddhist religions highly regulated.

Congress spokesperson Dilxat Raxit told Radio Free Asia that Chinese government-funded Confucius institutes in Western countries served as a platform for propaganda and spying for the Communist Party of China. The institutes made use of social media to disseminate fake news and glorify systematic ethnic cleansing in China as a show of concern for the Uyghurs, he said.

The congress called on the German government to close the institutes by legislation, the spokesperson added.

Radio Free Asia rang up the Confucius institute in Munich and the Chinese embassy in Berlin for comments but was unable to solicit a response.

Germany is hosting 19 Confucius institutes, which can be found at the University of Hamburg, Heidelberg University, the Free University of Berlin and other places. The Free Democratic Party submitted a proposal to the German parliament in July last year asking to shut down the many Confucius institutes in the country.

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