The Canadian province of New Brunswick (New Brunswick) had announced in 2019 that it would close the province’s Confucius Institute, and that the partnership would end when the contract expires in 2022. The province’s education minister, Dominic Cardy, revealed at a hearing of the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Canada-China Relations on 21 May that the decision to disband the Confucius Institute was made after the Chinese consul general came to the door to pressure and threaten the process with the export of Canadian lobster to China.
The Confucius Institute is a branch of the Chinese Communist Party, which focuses on cultural and linguistic projects, but also includes overt political propaganda, infiltrating the Canadian education sector through school operations.
Cady revealed that the first person to lobby was former New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who wanted Cady to maintain relations with the Chinese, Chinese schools and Confucius Institutes. Then came his office the Chinese consul general in Canada, who made it clear that any situation that eroded the New Brunswick government’s relationship with China also threatened the sale of Canadian lobster in China.
The consul general invited him to visit China and said that China is a democratic country and asked him to dispel his doubts, but also said that the termination of the Confucius Institute would be an interference in China’s internal affairs and an infringement on the right to self-determination and national autonomy. Cadi was well aware that the other side was exerting pressure, threatening economic retaliation, and that the incident had evolved into a binational issue. He responded to the other side that these accusations did not apply, “This is a school matter, and you are talking about lobsters.”
According to Cady, it is becoming clear from reports from around the world that this is part of the Chinese Communist model, and that after taking advantage of Chinese hospitality, the Communist Party will move to the next stage of “veiled threats,” where lobsters will become part of the provincial education system if they insist on ending the Confucius Institute, and where China may make a decision about economic relations with Canada based on what happens in New Brunswick. China could also make decisions about its economic relations with Canada based on what happens in New Brunswick. He therefore reminded the Canada-China Council of the need to understand the threat of the Chinese Communist Party and to keep their distance when dealing with countries with different values.