COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The University of Missouri has become the latest U.S. campus to embrace a Chinese language and cultural exchange program financed by the Beijing government.
Campus leaders recently welcomed a parade of Chinese dignitaries who came to Columbia to unveil the university's Confucius Institute. The institute will offer Mandarin language courses, teacher training, business collaborations and more.
The program began at the University of Maryland in 2004 and has expanded to 83 American universities and hundreds worldwide. Missouri will receive $250,000 annually over the next three years in a partnership with Shanghai Normal University in China.
Some critics have called the efforts a thinly-veiled propaganda tool of the Communist Chinese government. Missouri officials say the program will remain independent and builds on Asian outreach efforts begun more than a century ago.
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