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[Exclusive] China-sponsored Confucius Institutes behind ‘hostile activities’ against pro-Hong Kong rallies in Seoul: lawmaker

By Kim Arin

Published : June 15, 2023 - 23:16

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Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes in South Korea allegedly led “hostile activities” targeting rallies in support of Hong Kong democracy movement, according to a lawmaker in Seoul.

The Institutes mobilized Chinese students here to stage counter-protests against pro-Hong Kong rallies at South Korean universities, People Power Party Rep. Choe Jae-hyeong office told The Korea Herald quoting an intelligence report.

At the instruction of the Institutes, Chinese students defaced posters expressing support for Hong Kong at universities based in Seoul, including Seoul National University, the report said.

The report found that the institutes especially focused on countering activities and events by the student body that are critical of China on issues concerning Hong Kong and Taiwan.

At one university in South Jeolla Province, the institutes rallied a union of Chinese students into successfully campaigning to get a Taiwanese flag taken down.

The institutes, the first of which was established in Seoul in 2004, have been accused of acting as a channel for Chinese propaganda and espionage under the guise of offering language and cultural exchange programs.

In 2018, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation raised concerns about the institutes housed at universities possibly spreading propaganda and gathering intelligence for Beijing.