Confucius Goes to Azerbaijan
Two Caucasus neighbors, Georgia and Azerbaijan, once spoke Russian as a second language. Now, Georgia is busy recruiting English teachers to become an English-speaking nation, while neighboring Azerbaijan seems to be banking on Chinese as the next hip language to speak.
A chapter of the Confucius Institute, a government-funded sinology network, opened at Baku State University on April 22. China’s Anhui University will supply textbooks and other teaching materials through the institute to help popularize the Chinese language and culture among presumably eager Azerbaijanis.
Sometimes described as similar to Germany’s Goethe-Institut or France’s Alliance Française, the Confucius Institute has faced criticism for allegedly being a propaganda vehicle for the Chinese government. Some scholars claim that Beijing uses the institute and household name of the philosopher Confucius as tools to promote its cultural and economic reach to a number of countries, now including Azerbaijan.