Foreign director of a Confucius Institute in Slovakia apologizes after emailing threats to researchers

Ľuboslav Štora, the foreign director of the Confucius Institute in the Slovak capital Bratislava, has been accused of sending a threatening email to Matej Šimalčík, the executive director of the Central European Center for Asian Studies (CEIAS), a think tank based in the country, Brussels-based independent European media Euractiv reported on April 27. The letter reads, “Did you sleep well? When you walk down the street, you should be under a lot of pressure ……”

Stora previously worked as head of sales and management at ZTE Slovakia for 12 years and left in February 2020. The report said he sent the email shortly after the research center released an investigative report on March 24 this year on, China’s presence in Slovak universities.

Speaking to reporters, Master Majors said that while such a threatening email did not scare him, he was surprised by the email sent directly by the director of the Confucius Institute in Bratislava himself. Such an attack from someone who holds a leadership position in a quasi-official Chinese institution is certainly worrisome,” according to Shifu Majors, an organization that claims to be only an educational and cultural institution.

An investigation by the China-Europe Center for Asian Studies, which prompted the Confucius Institute’s foreign director to react, found that Slovakia’s 23 public universities and the Slovak Academy of Sciences maintain as many as 113 formal and informal ties with Chinese universities and other Chinese entities, according to the report. Most of these universities’ cooperation projects with the Chinese side are focused on the fields of nature and science and technology.

The Confucius Institute in Bratislava was established on May 17, 2007 by Tianjin University and the Slovak Technical University. According to the research center, the Slovak University of Technology has the strongest ties with the Chinese side of all the institutions surveyed, cooperating mainly in the fields of computers, engineering and technology.

“In Slovakia, cooperation with Chinese entities suffers from low transparency. …… Despite the potential for technology transfer by publicly funded institutions, current legislation does not require Chinese entities (especially companies) to disclose their beneficiaries, just like other types of relationships where publicly funded entities provide valuable consideration to private parties,” the research center said. 2020, the Slovak Intelligence Service said in its annual report that the country’s active Chinese intelligence services are trying to gain access to information in the field of information and telecommunications technology.

Local media outlet Denník N was the first to report on the matter a few days ago, and after being followed up by several media outlets in quick succession, the director of the Confucius Institute in Bratislava publicly apologized to the China-Europe Center for Asian Studies, saying that “his absurd reaction” was meant to “point out the absurdity of what [the center] had said about the investigation “.