The Confucius Institutes are part of a major Chinese Government initiative begun in 2004, promoting the learning of the Chinese language and culture internationally. They operate through a network of joint-venture institutes located in learning institutions around the world, and while they have an educational focus, they also reflect political changes in China''s relationship with the rest of the world. In the early 21st century, influence is as powerful as force in international relations. While China''s leadership has given the Confucius Institutes considerable political independence, they are still a part of the Communist Party''s propaganda system. Despite some foreign concerns about the Confucius Institutes being a propaganda tool, on comparasion, many other countries have similar programmes; the difference is China''s political system. Through the Confucius Institutes, China is building the architecture of a major power, and has succeeded in improving its international influence. The Confucius Institutes reflect a more confident and effective Chinese foreign policy; and one that offers greater opportunities for engagement.