A policy directive sent by the U.S. Department of State to universities that sponsor Confucius Institutes suggests that the language and cultural centers will have to change how they operate or fall afoul of American visa laws. The May 17 memo states that any academics at university-based institutes who are teaching at the elementary- and secondary-school levels are violating the terms of their visas and must leave at the end of this academic year. It also says that, after a “preliminary review,” the State Department has determined that the institutes must obtain American accreditation in order to continue to accept foreign scholars and professors as teachers.
About 60 universities in the U.S. now host the centers, which are also in more than 60 other countries. The Chinese government typically pays to start the centers and for a portion of their continuing costs. Critics of the centers have called them propaganda vehicles for the Chinese government.