The online presentation of a book by WELT journalist Stefan Aust about China’s head of state Xi has been cancelled. The instruction to the Confucius Institute is said to have come from China. Criticism came from universities and politics: “In Germany, there is freedom of expression.”
The cancellation of a book review on China’s head of state Xi Jinping by the Confucius Institutes in Hanover and Duisburg has led to sharp reactions in universities and politics. The management of the Leibniz Universität Hannover called the rejection in a message on Monday “unacceptable, strange and incomprehensible”. The FDP and CDU also criticized it in Lower Saxony.
On Wednesday, the journalists Stefan Aust and Adrian Geiges wanted to present their biography “Xi Jinping – the most powerful man in the world” in an online reading in parallel in Hanover and Duisburg. Aust is WELT publisher.
According to media reports, however, the organizing Confucius Institutes received an order from China at short notice that this reading should not take place under any circumstances.
It should not have been about a possibly critical content of the book, but about an almost cultic veneration that prevails in China around Xi Jinping. He should not be spoken or written about like a normal person.
The Confucius Institute is a state-owned Chinese educational organization and reports to the Ministry of Education. The official goal is to promote the Chinese language and culture and to facilitate cultural exchange. There are around 20 Confucius Institutes in Germany. They are often affiliated with German universities.