Chinese warning

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Learning Mandarin is a great opportunity for young people (“Scots primary children will soon learn Mandarin”, 27 July) but any project initiated and funded by China’s government should be treated with caution.

A Chinese official has described the Confucius programme as “an important part of our overseas propaganda”.

China’s government pays for this project (and approves the plans for each school) because it promotes a positive image of their country, both through what it teaches and the benefits it brings.

If pupils study China but learn nothing about its illegal occupation of Tibet, its denial of freedom to its own citizens and its appalling human rights record, then propaganda is what they are getting.

When China’s undemocratic government is given a place in our schools, we must ensure that pupils learn what it doesn’t want them to know.

The Scottish Government would do well to remember that gifts from China come with strings attached. Avoiding the subjects of human rights, Tibet and China’s dark side is no more justifiable when signing a trade deal than it is in the classroom.

Alistair Currie

Free Tibet

London

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