United States requires Confucius Institute center to register as foreign mission

Andrew Cummings
August 14, 2020

David Stilwell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, emphasized that the Institute would not be banned.

The United States announced Thursday that it would require the center that runs the Confucius Institute to register as a foreign mission of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, alleging the group's Chinese language courses are part of a widespread campaign of influence and propaganda in the U.S.

In May, a bipartisan group of US college campus political organizations - the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America - issued an open letter calling to close all Confucius Institutes in the United States, citing China's human rights record with particular emphasis on the government crackdown in Hong Kong. The designation restricts the CIUS's operations and staffing levels in the country.

Of some 550 Confucius Institutes around the world, 80 are based at USA colleges, including Stanford University and Savannah State University in Georgia, according to the National Association of Scholars, a non-partisan research group that has studied them. They are funded by the Chinese government.


Amid a growing rift between the two nations, hardline USA lawmakers argue that China is trying to increase its influence through Confucius Institutes. "Universities around the country and around the world are examining the Confucius Institutes' curriculum and the scope of Beijing's influence in their education systems", he said.

Although the institutes generally steer clear of history, politics and current affairs, critics say they are vehicles for Chinese influence on campuses, providing the government in Beijing leverage to censor teaching materials and academic events by threatening to withdraw funding for the institutes.

Pompeo said the move was an attempt to seek reciprocity in relations with Beijing. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has quickened its actions targeting a range of threats by Beijing, including rights abuses in the regions of Xinjiang and Hong Kong, rampant theft of American technology, and military aggression in the South China Sea.

The secretary said the goal of the latest designation was "to ensure that American educators and school administrators can make informed choices about whether these CCP-backed programs should be allowed to continue, and if so, in what fashion".


"Beijing has enjoyed free and open access to US society, while denying that same access to Americans and other foreigners in China", Pompeo said.

Pompeo said the goal of the USA action is "to ensure that American educators and school administrators can make informed choices about whether these CCP-backed (Chinese Communist Party) programs should be allowed to continue, and if so, in what fashion".

The action tracks with earlier decisions to add Chinese media outlets to the list of organizations that should be considered foreign missions due to their ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.


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