January 19, 2023

China — Trojan Horses

Beware of the CCP bearing gifts — they mask a hidden agenda of destruction.

By Laurence F. Sanford

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is bearing Trojan horse gifts to the world in order to influence and garner support for the CCP’s rule and mode of governance. And we all know how the Trojans ended up after accepting the Greek horse gift.

Confucius Institutes (CIs), founded in 2004 by the CCP, are Trojan horses. Confucius Institutes preach the good news about China and suppress negative news. No discussions of Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, or Falun Gong are allowed. CIs are “a key stratagem of China’s ‘soft war’ against America, crafted, in the words of [National Association of Scholars] senior researcher Rachelle Peterson, to ‘teach political lessons that unduly favor China,’” says the Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards.

The CIs are Trojan horses inserted into foreign countries for the overt purpose of educating foreigners on Chinese culture and language. Their covert purpose is to manipulate, indoctrinate, and influence foreign audiences into following CCP policies. By 2021, over 550 CIs operated worldwide. And the tie that binds is money. The great cartoon philosopher “Wizard of Id” in 1964 had a cartoon panel that had the diminutive tyrannical king stating, “The "Golden Rule — Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules.”

According to a U.S. Senate investigative report, China spent over $158 million on CIs in the United States between 2006 and 2019. Just as money, and sometimes sex, has captured American “elite” into whitewashing China’s crimes against humanity, CCP money captured American universities and schools into hosting Confucius Institutes. Also, the tacit endorsement by President Obama in 2009, promoting the “100,000 Strong Initiative” for American students to study Chinese, added to enrollments.

Over nine million students in 160 countries have enrolled in CIs. By 2017, more than 100 CIs had opened in U.S. universities, including Columbia and Stanford. The CIs were mostly staffed and funded by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Education or Hanban. The CCP controlled all CI personnel who were selected on the basis of their CCP party loyalty and love of the homeland.

By April 2022, the number of CIs had fallen to 18, due to the Defense Department and other federal education funding sources threatening to withhold monies due to CCP control and influence. Other factors in the closures were lack of academic freedom, lack of transparency, intellectual property theft, and intimidation of those who opposed the CCP.

With the closure of many Confucius Institutes at American universities, the CCP rebranded and renamed them as non-governmental charitable organizations.

The CCP pivoted from gifting Confucius Institutes to U.S. universities to gifting cash to universities via CCP-controlled social organizations and anonymous individuals. The Ivy League University of Pennsylvania is an example of how Chinese money flows to capture the American elite. UPenn has received over $54 million from Chinese sources (many anonymous) since 2014. Most of the donations came after the university in February 2017 announced that it would create the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, DC, with Joe Biden leading the center. Biden was paid nearly $1 million by UPenn for being a professor, but never taught a class. The current secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, served briefly as the center’s managing director. Other senior Biden officials had tours at the Penn Biden Center. Classified documents linked to Biden have recently been discovered in a closet at the Penn Biden Center. Hunter Biden’s laptop reveals a link between CEFC China Energy and the Penn Biden Center. Hunter Biden shared an office with a CEFC emissary in Washington, DC.

“The Penn Biden Center is a dark-money, revolving-door nightmare where foreign competitors like China donated millions of dollars to the university so that they could have access to future high-ranking officials,” said Tom Anderson, director of the Government Integrity Project at the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center.

Other Ivy League universities receiving Chinese money include Harvard ($75 million) and Yale ($43.5 million). These are reported donations. Who knows how many unreported and opaque monies have been funneled?

The CCP’s “whole-of-society” strategy of influence and espionage exploits and weaponizes every element of human society to suit CCP’s needs. Confucius Institutes are just one element. Another important element is the more than 300,000 Chinese students attending American universities. They are an important source of income for universities (remember the “Wizard of Id”) and take slots that should be going to American students. Many of these Chinese students already have advanced degrees. They are People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers sent to take home the latest in scientific research and spy on fellow students and teachers. There are about 150 chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in America. Their purpose is to support CCP policies and to oppose anyone or anything against the CCP, such as the Dali Lama or the Tiananmen Square killings.

The Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is another CCP Trojan horse. It offers predatory loans to poor countries to finance the construction of roads, ports, railways, and other infrastructure projects conducted by Chinese companies and Chinese workers. Many loans are hidden from public view and linked to kickback schemes benefiting political leaders and elites. The loans are often built on risky foundations for repayment, often leading to loan default and Chinese seizure of assets. The Sri Lankan port of Hambantota was seized due to loan default, as the port did not generate enough revenue to pay the loan.

Laurence F. Sanford is a former Navy Officer and CIA clandestine services officer. He is currently Senior Analyst with the American Security Council.

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