Jun Liu, who had served as director of some Confucius Institutes in the United States, has become the sole candidate for a senior position at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIED).
Liu, an American Chinese, is set to take over as HKIED’s deputy president overseeing research and development, according to Ming Pao Daily.
Liu, currently associate provost of the Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University, had earlier worked as director of the Confucius Institute in Arizona State University and later also at a similar institute at Georgia State University.
His background has aroused suspicions that he has close connections with political circles in Beijing.
Confucius Institutes, teaching facilities for Chinese language and culture linked to foreign universities and paid for by the Chinese government, have multiplied worldwide in the past few years.
Since the program’s launch in 2004, 440 institutes have been founded in 120 countries.
However, the program has faced criticism in host countries due to the perception that the institutes seek to promote the Chinese government’s agenda.
Questioned about his links, Liu stressed that he is not a Communist Party member, and that he has no contact with the Chinese government.
His decision to come and work in Hong Kong was prompted by the desire to work in a familiar cultural environment and to take care of his parents in China, he said.
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture as well as facilitate cultural exchanges, and are not involved in politics, he said, also adding that there is no interference in academic freedoms at the institutes.
HKIED said the institute had wanted acting deputy president Lui Tai-lok to formally take the post, but Lui refused.
Hence, Jun Liu became the sole candidate.
According to the report, Liu will meet the teachers and students of the Hong Kong institution on Dec. 1 and 2.
Franky Leung Ho-ching, president of HKIED’s student union and a member of the screening panel for candidates, was quoted as saying that he hadn’t paid much attention to Liu’s association with the Confucius Institutes.
Lueng said he will now seek to learn more about the candidate.
Leung Yan-wing, deputy professor with HKIED’s education policy and leadership department, said he has concerns about Liu’s background and that there is need for serious discussion with him.
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