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Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna Promotes the Chinese Regime’s Infiltration in Austria

Brittany Jordan



Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna Promotes the Chinese Regime’s Infiltration in Austria

The Chinese Communist regime has gained a foothold in Austria through its Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, according to media reports and leaked government documents recently obtained by The Epoch Times from a trusted source.

Confucius Institutes (CIs) promote Chinese language and cultural programs. CIs are operated under Hanban, an organization under China’s Ministry of Education, which promotes communist ideology and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) agenda, including censoring topics the regime deems sensitive such as the persecution of Falun Gong adherents, Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna offers courses to Austrian armed officers and its instructors teach at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, according to a May 14 report published by Austrian newspaper Die Presse.

The report revealed that “in exceptional cases, the teachers [of the Confucius Institute] also come to the rooms of the armed forces, for example, the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt,” and that “documents from the Federal Army that are ‘not classified’ are also translated in the Confucius Institute.”

The report mentions the role of Richard Trappl, the Austrian head of the CI at the University of Vienna, in expanding the organization. “The embassy of the Beijing regime in Vienna openly recommends him as one of those Austrian experts who understand China the way it wants to be understood.”

The CI at the University of Vienna has set up Chinese language courses for Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Defence Academy, the Diplomatic Academy, and other government institutions, according to its official website.

The CI was established in 2006 as a joint venture between Beijing Foreign Studies University and the University of Vienna, and it is the first CI in Austria.

The website highlights the relationship between the CI at the University of Vienna and the United Nations, stating that “Vienna is one of the official locations of the United Nations and an international city. The Confucius Institute and related organizations jointly organize activities such as ‘United Nations Chinese Day,’ ‘United Nations Peace Day,’ and ‘World Peace Chorus Festival’ every year.”

In October 2019, the think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute published an article titled, “Mind Your Tongue.” Professor John Fitzgerald wrote that “[t]he Chinese Government engages in a range of visible and acceptable influence operations. At the legitimate end of the spectrum, it targets people outside China through cultural agreements and exchanges.”

Fitzgerald pointed out that in Australia, the CCP “supplies schools with language learning and cultural studies textbooks, and co-funds Confucius Classrooms in state school systems and Confucius Institutes on university campuses. … No other country has managed to embed its own government’s particular reading of history, politics, and culture within other countries’ educational systems as effectively as the Government of China,” he wrote.

Hainan Province’s Close Ties With CI in Vienna

The Epoch Times obtained a series of classified documents from the Hainan provincial government that reveal the CI’s role in assisting the CCP’s infiltration in Austria and some of its neighboring countries, and how Richard Trappl acted as the middleman in arranging agreements between a local government in Hainan and the CI at the University of Vienna.

A 2016 internal document from the foreign affairs department of Danzhou city, Hainan Province, showed that the authorities reached “several understandings” with the CI at the University of Vienna during a visit to Danzhou by Trappl, the director of the institute.

A screenshot of a leaked document from the Hainan provincial government, dated 2016, which reveal that Richard Trappl, the Austrian director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, visited Danzhou city in Hainan Province and brokered several agreements with the local government on behalf of the university. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

As disclosed by the document, Trappl arrived in Danzhou on May 29, 2016, and the next day, he was welcomed at a banquet where he met with Zhang Geng, the mayor of Danzhou, and several other local senior government officials.

The document states that the first “consensus” reached between the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna and the Danzhou Municipal Government was for Danzhou to provide the institute with “teaching materials, books, and research materials” on Dongpo Culture.

Dongpo Culture originated from Su Dongpo, also known as Su Shi, who was a famous poet, calligrapher, and statesman in the Northern Song Dynasty. He was exiled to Danzhou in 1097 and lived there for three years. Just like Confucius, his name is now used by the Chinese regime to infiltrate the West in the name of ancient Chinese culture.

In mainland China, education materials and books are important tools for the CCP to brainwash and indoctrinate the public with its socialist and communist ideologies.

Han Chunyong, an official from the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Bureau of Teaching Materials, published an article last October on China Education News, quoting the Minister of Education, Chen Baosheng, as saying that “the [Chinese Communist] Party’s overall leadership of teaching materials should be strengthened” and that “Xi Jinping’s Thought with Chinese socialist characteristics in the new era should be thoroughly promoted in the teaching materials.”

The document also reveals that Trappl tried to promote a sister-city relationship between Danzhou and one of the cities in the state of Burgenland in Austria, as the region is a tourist attraction known for its “wetlands, unique ways of winemaking” and “shares similarities” with the Chinese city.

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A screenshot of a leaked document from the Hainan provincial government, dated 2016, which reveal that Richard Trappl, the director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, helped promote a sister-city relationship between Danzhou and a city in Burgenland, Austria. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Sister cities are an important tool in the CCP’s overseas united front work. In a speech on Sept. 23, 2020, then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned his audience that “China was aggressively attempting to influence state and local governments, including through seemingly innocuous sister-city agreements” and that the CCP’s sister-city programs are part of its “overseas propaganda,” which is “not so friendly to American interests,” according to The Washington Post.

The foreign affairs office of Danzhou disclosed in another document titled, “Report on the Key Work Plan for 2018,” that one of the CCP’s tactics in its infiltration overseas is to use CIs to implement cultural united front work.

The United Front Work Department (UFWD) is an organization directly under the CCP’s Central Committee that implements Beijing’s orders to spread the Party’s propaganda and communist ideology around the world.

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A screenshot of a document from the Hainan provincial government, dated Oct. 31, 2017. The highlighted parts describe how the CI promotes China’s soft power through the Belt and Road Initiative. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The document, published in Oct. 31, 2017, stated, “The [Danzhou] city’s cultural resources advantage is brought into play to deepen the cooperation and exchange between the city’s Dongpo Cultural Base and the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna University,” thus “integrating the city’s culture into the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and enhancing the city’s international ‘soft power.’”

A 2017 document from Hainan’s provincial foreign affairs office revealed that Li Xiansheng, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Provincial People’s Congress, led a delegation to Austria, Serbia, and Greece from July 26 to August 4, 2017, to actively promote the Belt and Road Initiative to these countries. During the visit, Li met with the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute of the University of Vienna, Li Kaning, to discuss cooperation in the field of culture and arts.

In its “Self-check Report to Meet the State Council’s Major Inspection,” dated July 16, 2018, the Danzhou foreign affairs office revealed another role of the CI—to promote economic exchanges and attract overseas talents.

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A screenshot of a leaked document from the Hainan provincial government, dated July 16, 2018, which describes how the CI works with Hainan authorities to collect information and recruit talent from Austria. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times).

In the document, the foreign affairs office reported that “our office has actively coordinated with the University of Vienna in Austria and successfully facilitated the establishment of Danzhou Dongpo Cultural Base in the Confucius Institute at the university,” and that the purpose of the cultural base was to “attract outstanding Austrian talents and overseas students to Danzhou for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The document also states that the “office is actively working with the University of Vienna to help collect and collate information of local high-level talents, overseas students and high-tech projects.”

The Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna did not respond to a request for comment.

Vienna, Other Western Countries Respond to Threats Posed by CIs

The news triggered concerns for Austrian national security amid Western suspicions of Confucius institutes being used as a propaganda tool by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to promote its agenda.

“In line with the political positioning of the EU, Austria regards the People’s Republic of China not only as a partner and competitor, but also as a strategic rival who advocates an alternative governance model,” a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Austria told Die Presse.

In 2019, Belgium denied a residence permit to Xinning Song, director of the Confucius Institute in Brussels, over accusations of espionage by the Belgian State Security Service.

Sweden closed all of its CIs and classrooms as of April last year out of “growing Swedish concern regarding Chinese security, disregard for human rights violations, oppression of ethnic- and religious minority groups and the jailing of Gui Minhai, the Swedish bookseller and poet from Hong Kong,” according to a May 2020 report by ScandAsia.

Other Western countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia are also shutting down the controversial CIs and related Confucius Classrooms.

Long Tengyun contributed to this report.

World News

Renewables Push Could Blackout Australia Without Total Grid Reform

Brittany Jordan



Renewables Push Could Blackout Australia Without Total Grid Reform

A total reform to Australia’s grid is urgently needed, or else the transition to renewables could spell disaster for energy security, says the government’s Energy Security Board.

The board told state and federal leaders at the National Cabinet on Wednesday that Australia’s accelerated conversion from coal to wind and solar had to be accompanied by a total overhaul to the nation’s energy grid.

“This isn’t just a tweak around the edges,” said Energy Security Board Chair Kerry Schott. “It’s about a whole redesign of the national electricity market.”

This comes as both Victoria and New South Wales released their own plans to reach net-zero earlier this year, with premiers for both states having to face the Energy Security Board as it addressed Australia’s difficult challenge in safely transitioning to solar and wind power.

“It’s something we have to do to confidently embrace Australia’s energy future while reducing the risk of price shocks and blackouts.”

Energy Security Board Chair Kerry Schott speaks during a discussion forum at the Clean Energy Summit at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia, on July 30, 2019. (AAP Image/Peter Rae)

This year alone, Australia experienced the brunt of blackouts and price spikes on numerous separate occasions.

In May, a fire at the Callide coal-fired power station and a lack of backup generation saw lights go out for 400,000 Queenslanders.

Also, in May, Australasia’s largest aluminium smelter was forced to power down five times in two weeks after the smelter couldn’t afford to pay for electricity after planned, and unplanned coal plant outages sent energy prices soaring—on one occasion exploding by 18,000 percent.

Following the outages, which were exacerbated by cold weather, Australians were left wide-eyed in June after their electricity bills showed average energy costs had almost tripled compared to the same month last year.

But signs of instability were starting to show even earlier with the shutdown of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal plant in 2017, and the exit of 1,600 megawatts which had supplied power to meet 25 percent of Victoria’s electricity needs, and around 8 percent of the entire National Electricity Market.

The resulting disruption was felt across Australia’s east coast, with average energy prices shooting up by 85 percent for Victoria, 63 percent for New South Wales, 53 percent for Queensland, and a further 32 percent for South Australia.

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Workers leave Hazelwood Power Station after their final shift in Hazelwood, Australia, on Mar. 31, 2017. Around 750 workers have been left jobless after the plant was closed. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Schott recommended Australia’s path to emissions-free energy be bolstered by a series of significant reforms, one of which was to reinforce Australia’s fleet of reliable energy generation and storage.

“We have had a very mild summer, and everyone has got very complacent, but we only need one hot summer in three jurisdictions together, or a major unexpected outage at a big coal plant, and we’ve got a real resource adequacy issue right on top of us,” she said.

A second recommendation was to fast track large-scale renewable energy hubs to support vast renewable power generation at an even lower price point—a direction which has gradually made progress with a recent proposal for the world’s largest, $95 billion renewable energy hub in Western Australia.

A third but equally critical suggestion was to address underlying technical constraints imbued in the nation’s energy infrastructure, namely, maintaining grid inertia and stabilising grid frequency.

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World News

Spanish Judge Seeks Tax Fraud Trial for Pop Singer Shakira

Brittany Jordan



Spanish Judge Seeks Tax Fraud Trial for Pop Singer Shakira

Colombian singer Shakira visits Tannourine Cedars Reserve, in Tannourine, Lebanon on July 13, 2018. (Jamal Saidi/File/Reuters)

MADRID—A Spanish judge has seen “sufficient evidence” for Colombian singer Shakira to face trial for tax fraud, a court document released on Thursday said.

Judge Marco Jesus Juberias has wrapped up a pre-trial investigation of allegations by prosecutors that the singer failed to pay up to 14.5 million euros ($17.2 million) in tax on income earned between 2012 and 2014. It is a preliminary step before a trial is set.

“The documents (…) annexed to the lawsuit are sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to continue with the proceedings,” the judge said in the court document.

While prosecutors say Shakira was living in the region of Catalonia during those years, her representatives argue she did not live in Spain until 2015 and has met all of her tax obligations.

Shakira’s representatives in Spain said in an emailed statement on Thursday that the court document was an “expected step in the process” and that the singer’s legal team “remains confident and fully cooperative with the judiciary and will not comment further.”

The 44-year-old singer and the FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique have been together since 2011 and they have two children.

By Emma Pinedo

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World News

Italy Wins Rematch With US in Men’s Olympic Water Polo

Brittany Jordan



Italy Wins Rematch With US in Men’s Olympic Water Polo

TOKYO—Francesco Di Fulvio and Italy won the 2019 world championship in men’s water polo, establishing themselves as gold medal contenders for the Olympics. Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

A year after the Games were supposed to occur, Di Fulvio sees a wide-open competition in Tokyo.

“We are the same team. We do the same play, the same game,” he said. “But now, in Tokyo 2020, maybe, here can win, in my opinion, six, seven teams. They improve their game. We did the same. So I think there will be nice games.”

Italy played one of those nice games Thursday against the United States, rallying for a dramatic 12–11 victory. Di Fulvio scored five times as the Italians jumped over the Americans in Group A with five points after playing to a 6–6 draw against Greece on Tuesday.

Five years after Serbia won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as the reigning world champion, there is no superpower towering over the 12-country field in Tokyo. Just a ton of possibilities.

“I’ve never seen eight teams, nine teams strong that can win medals,” Italy coach Alessandro Campagna said. “So every match is a fight, every match.”

Italy’s Pietro Figlioli (4) shoots during a preliminary round men’s water polo match against the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan, on July 29, 2021. (Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

Campagna’s team is certainly among those medal contenders. Italy is seeking its first Olympic title since 1992 and No. 4 overall. It won silver in 2012 and bronze in Rio.

The United States finished 10th in Brazil, but it picked up some momentum with a runner-up finish in this year’s World League Super Final that included a 10–8 victory over Italy. It then won its first two games in the Olympics against Japan and South Africa.

Looking to strengthen its position for a possible berth in the quarterfinals, the U.S. scored the first four goals against Italy and led 11–9 with 5:22 left. But it couldn’t hold on.

“I think that we should win the game,” U.S. coach Dejan Udovicic said. “We got a few times to conclude the game and we didn’t and they punished us.”

Di Fulvio tied it at 11 with a penalty shot with 2:22 left, and Nicholas Presciutti got the game-winner when he converted a rebound with 1:40 to go. The United States had one last chance in the closing seconds, but turned it over.

“At the end we had the power, we had the concentration and we had the passion to wait for the right moment to go in front,” Campagna said.

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United States’ Marko Vavic (3) shoots against Italy during a preliminary round men’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan, on July 29, 2021. (Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

The United States still appears to be in a strong position to advance, but it closes group play with games against Hungary on Saturday and Greece on Monday.

“I think once you get to the quarterfinals, I think anybody can beat anybody,” U.S. goaltender Drew Holland said. “There’s lots of good teams and it’s the Olympics and we’re getting kind of to the nitty-gritty point. But again, build through the group play stage and be playing our best water polo for the crossover.”

Croatia also got an important win, beating Montenegro 13–8 behind three goals from Loren Fatovic. Croatia, which won gold in 2012, was coming off an 11–8 loss to Australia on Tuesday.

Croatia faces Serbia on Saturday in a rematch of the 2016 Rio final.

“After our last game, against Australia, we analyzed our mistakes and we played a lot better today,” Croatia goalkeeper Marko Bijac said. “We need to continue like this and try to be even better in our next match.”

Hungary, Spain, Greece, and Serbia also won. Hungary routed winless South Africa 23–1, and Spain moved to 3–0 with a 16–4 victory over Kazakhstan. Greece beat Japan 10–9, and Serbia topped Australia 14–8 in the last game of the day.

By Jay Cohen

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