An international drive has been launched against China's growing network of Confucius Institutes.

Spearheaded by Tibetan groups, the worldwide campaign

is likely to focus strongly on Scotland, which has more of the language centres per head of population than any other country on the planet.

The "Protect Academic Freedom - Say No to Confucius Institutes" campaign comes after major universities in the US, Canada and Sweden ditched the institutes amid concerns they were being turned in to propaganda tools.

Scottish universities and schools - a growing number of which have Confucius Classrooms funded by the Chinese Communist regime through they same mechanism - remain relaxed about the relationship.

However, Students for a Free Tibet, which is leading the campaign, has uncovered an example of a Tibetan student in Canada being told not to display the Himalayan nation's flag in case it offender Chinese funders.

The student, Tenzin Dechen, said "My family fled Tibet because of the Chinese government's oppression.

"Never did I imagine they would find a way to silence my voice through the Confucius Institute at my own university here in Canada.

"I fear that countless students worldwide studying at universities hosting a Confucius Institute are being left vulnerable to a censored education system."

Several Canadian universities have dropped Confucius Institutes. Toronto School Board has done so too after a major scandal.

There are Confucius Institutes at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and Aberdeen Universities and a fifth centre, which organised school Confucius Classrooms, based at Strathclyde University.

Students for a Free Tibet have already raised concerns about the Edinburgh University centre. The institution, however, has insisted it has no problems with academic freedoms. It has recently organised a series of talks on controversial issues.

Another Tibetan Group, Free Tibet, has said it fears Scottish schools with Confucius Classrooms will whitewash China's human rights record.

This week it called on three councils, Fife, Angus and Perth, to review their decision to open Confucius Classrooms. Alistair Currie, of Free Tibet, said: "We have found a consistent picture across Scotland of councils treating these classrooms as a gift from the heavens but when a foreign authoritarian regime offers you something, it's vital that you question its motives and very closely examine the risks. We have seen no evidence of Fife, Perth and Angus councils doing that."

Fife Council said its schools addressed the importance of human rights. Angus Council confirmed Carnoustie High School is likely to become the latest Scottish School to take cash - and teachers - from the Chinese regime.

The Chinese Government - on the record - has stressed that its teachers must stick to party lines on complex issues such as Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan.