Education

China's 'Confucius' Espionage and Propaganda Institutes

The Confucius Institutes: cultural exchange or communist accommodation?

Arnold Ahlert · Apr. 30, 2020

On April 21, the London Times reported that Sweden closed the last remaining Confucius Institute in that country. “The Chinese government in 2004 launched Confucius institutes at various foreign universities, with the stated goal of promoting Chinese language and culture,” explains columnist Zachary Evans. “However, U.S. officials have stated that the institutes are a propaganda tool meant to enhance China’s ‘soft power.’” Really? Then why are we still allowing 86 Confucius Institutes to operate in the United States?

That’s the most recent number compiled by the National Institute of Scholars, and a list provided by that website reveals a number of high-profile universities have embraced Chinese propaganda for years. Among them are UCLA, Purdue, Stanford, George Washington University, Wesleyan, Michigan State, Tufts, UNC Charlotte, Rutgers, Oklahoma, Temple, Columbia, several campuses of the University of California (UC), and a host of others.

Even more insidious, numerous K-12 public school systems around the nation have also embraced these propaganda mills. In addition to Confucius Institutes, there are “Confucius Classrooms” that ostensibly teach language, operating in more than 500 elementary, middle, and high schools.

These entities remain embedded in American educational institutions despite the alarm having been sounded at least two years ago. “With more than 100 universities in the United States now in direct partnership with the Chinese government through Confucius Institutes, the U.S. intelligence community is warning about their potential as spying outposts,” The Washington Post reported in 2018.

A year later, the Senate issued a scathing bipartisan report by a Homeland Security subcommittee stating that, without major changes, Confucius Institutes operating on American college campuses should be shut down.

The report asserted that Chinese expansion of the aforementioned K-12 Confucius Classrooms is a top priority for the regime. Moreover, it noted that, despite an Education Department mandate requiring that colleges and universities report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more from a single source, nearly 70% of schools that received such amounts from Hanban — a Chinese Ministry of Education affiliate that runs Confucius Institutes — didn’t comply.

The report further noted that Hanban provides colleges between $100,000 and $200,000 in start-up costs, and a large amount to teaching supplies. It also chooses a director and teachers at no cost to the university. Those teachers sign contracts pledging not to undermine China’s national interests, and the Chinese government gets to approve approve every teacher, event, and speaker at the institutes. “Such limitations,” the report says, “attempt to export China’s censorship of political debate and prevent discussion of potentially politically sensitive topics.”

No kidding. Nonetheless, and despite the reality that China has “stifled” U.S. efforts to establish “American Cultural Centers” on Chinese college campuses, the report concluded that American schools should continue to partner with China. “Partnering with foreign universities offers students unique international learning experiences and enhance research opportunities,” it stated. “U.S. schools, however, should never, under any circumstances, compromise academic freedom.”

Earlier this year, this writer documented one of those “research” opportunities involving Harvard professor Charles Lieber, who was arrested for lying about payments he’d taken from yet another China-enhancing effort known as the “Thousand Talents Plan.” That researcher-recruitment effort paid Lieber hundreds of thousands of dollars to help China become proficient in cutting-edge science.

As for compromising academic freedom, who’s kidding whom? On far too many American campuses, academic freedom is a sham and has been for quite some time. Moreover, in a long, detailed article for the Harvard Crimson, columnist Matteo N. Wong makes it clear China is part of the mix: Harvard was willing suppress a speech by Chinese dissident and human-rights lawyer Teng Biao to accommodate China’s Communist government.

The most important sentence in the Washington Post’s 2018 article? The paper noted the threat Confucius Institutes “pose to the ability of the next generation of American leaders to learn, think and speak about realities in China and the true nature of the Communist Party regime.”

Last Sunday, Americans got a great indication of that threat. That was the day Microsoft founder Bill Gates defended China’s response to the Wuhan virus, pushing back against allegations that the Communist regime covered up the threat. “That’s a distraction,” Gates insisted. “I think there are a lot of incorrect and unfair things said.”

What about America? “Some countries did respond very quickly and get their testing in place and they avoided incredible economic pain,” Gates said. “It’s sad that even the U.S., where you would expect to do this well, did this poorly.”

The overwhelming majority of countries have been economically devastated, Bill. And isn’t a “distraction” when whistleblowers in China sounding the alarm were arrested, censored, and “disappeared,” or when a study reveals that a more honest approach by the regime might have prevented approximately 95% of the infections that have spread worldwide?

Gates is hardly an outlier. Ever since the pandemic began, a wholly corrupt media has moved heaven and earth to blame President Donald Trump, not just for his administration’s response to the virus but for the virus itself. The Democrat Party has taken the same approach, accusing the president of “xenophobia” and “racism” for enacting a travel ban and then accusing him of not enacting an effective enough one. Even spineless Republicans are getting their pound of flesh: The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a strategy memo that seeks to blame China for the pandemic, but tells candidates “don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban.”

In 2019, former FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that Confucius Institutes “offer a platform to disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom.” Yet they remain welcome in America’s educational institutions.

In October 2019, this writer asked a simple question: So, when it comes to America and China, who’s changing whom? That column documented the myriad of interests, from the NBA and academia to multinationals and Big Tech — and everything in between — for whom patriotism and national security take a distant back seat to profits and power. How many of those same entities are either headed for bankruptcy or attempting to garner government bailout funds for themselves? How many will even consider completely cutting ties with Communists thugs — as opposed to obfuscating or making phony promises about business and cultural “realignment?”

“We cannot outsource our independence,” President Trump stated on April 20. Oh yes we can, if enough Americans are indoctrinated by Chinese propaganda masquerading itself as “cultural exchange.”

It’s time we recognized entities like the Confucius Institutes for what they really are: The most devious part of a globalist agenda that no longer hides its contempt for American exceptionalism. That’s a pandemic far worse than the Wuhan flu.

Here’s hoping a majority of Americans will demand an equally determined eradication of it.

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