Beware the Confucius Institute Rebrand
Having been shown the door by the Trump administration, Red China’s propagandists are back under a new name with the Biden administration.
“He who knows all the answers has not been asked the right questions.”
So said Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher and namesake of the Communist Chinese Confucius Institutes populating universities across the country. Unfortunately, the right questions still aren’t being asked of these propaganda vehicles of the Red Chinese.
For years, these seemingly innocuous outreach programs were ostensibly designed to foster an appreciation of Chinese language and culture in American K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. At the program’s peak, the institutes numbered more than a hundred.
A few years back, though, the Trump administration did ask the right questions and began targeting these Confucius Institutes, which had been labeled a national security risk by the U.S. State Department.
As a result of increased scrutiny, “Many colleges and universities had replaced their Confucius Institute with a substantially similar program, or maintained closed relationships with Chinese institutions that had partnered in the Confucius Institute,” reports the National Association of Scholars. “These rebranding efforts match those of the Chinese government, which has reorganized Confucius Institutes under a new organization, the Chinese International Education Foundation.”
It seems the Chinese have learned at least one thing from America’s marketing gurus: Change the name of a product, and many consumers won’t realize they’re being fed the same thing. In other words, as The Daily Signal reports, “They’ve rebranded, but retained their function of promoting the interests of the Chinese Communist Party in the United States.”
The rebranding and rebirth is thanks to the Biden administration, which rescinded a Trump-proposed rule submitted to the Department of Homeland Security in the final days of his presidency to force universities to disclose their relationships with the Confucius Institutes. We’re shocked — shocked — to report that less than one week into the Biden administration, the proposal was scrapped.
Defenders of the institutes claim that they’re merely providing students with an opportunity to learn Chinese language and culture through colleges and universities that would otherwise be unable to fund them.
In reality, the program is less interested in generating an appreciation of Chinese culture than in making sure the policies and ideology of the CCP are embraced by the next generation of American leaders. That’s why the Trump administration declared in 2020 that the Confucius Institutes are “foreign missions” of China.
“The main mission of the institutes,” reports The Washington Times, “is to influence domestic political issues and target American academics who criticize the Chinese Communist Party’s policies. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in 2020 that Confucius Institutes are part of Beijing’s soft power structure to influence universities and their administrators, often with state funding.”
But what about these new “rebranded” institutes? Rachelle Peterson at National Review asks and answers the question:
Are these reconstituted Confucius Institutes any better than the original? They tend to avoid CIs’ more obvious mistakes, deleting, for instance, contractual language subjecting colleges to Chinese law. So in a sense, they may be worse than CIs, because their connection to the Chinese government is more hidden. There is no uniform name for these programs. They are more diverse than their predecessor CIs — though still pro-Beijing. And their funders aren’t generally public.
Since 2004, the Chinese government has stationed CIs offering Chinese language and culture courses at colleges and universities around the world. That includes more than 100 in the U.S., according to a 2017 report by the National Association of Scholars. Not surprisingly, these institutes steer clear of China’s notorious purges, human rights abuses, and deadly famines; they portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China; and they aim to educate a generation of unknowing or incurious Americans about nothing more than the regime’s official history.
The NAS criticizes the institutes for their lack of transparency and intellectual freedom, recommends their closure, and keeps a running tab on the number of institutes in the United States.
During a time when our nation’s students are being taught to hate their own country and culture, it’s unfortunate that they’re getting a steady dose of Chinese communist propaganda. And the fact that the Biden administration is allowing these clandestine purveyors of propaganda to continue operating under other names raises even more questions — both about the institutes and about the American president.
- higher education
- Joe Biden
- Donald Trump
- Confucius Institutes
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