Senate Panel Wants Chinese-Funded Confucius Institutes to Change or Leave US

Senate takes aim at Chinese schools in US, saying they spread propaganda

Senate takes aim at Chinese schools in US, saying they spread propaganda

"Confucius Institutes", run by the Chinese government on over 100 American college campuses, are a Trojan horse for Chinese influence in America, according to a report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, part of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which also warned that 519 American public schools are harboring "Confucius Classrooms" aimed at swaying the hearts and minds of children as young as five.

The institutes teach cooking, dance, language and other aspects of Chinese culture, ostensibly for the objective of promoting a healthy cultural exchange that can benefit students in a world where China represents a significant global power. The institutes primarily offer Chinese language classes and cultural events, including cooking classes, performances, and speakers, portraying China, which the mainstream political class in the U.S. sees as its archnemesis, as "approachable and compassionate" instead.

The FBI has said it is "watching warily" the Confucius Institutes and the State Department has called them "China's most powerful soft power platforms", the investigators found. "Confucius Institute funding comes with strings that can compromise academic freedom", its report says. It also can veto any program or speaker.

These findings align with previous reports which suggest that Confucius Institute, in league with the Chinese telecom company ZTE, may be acting as a massive surveillance network for the Chinese government in the USA and throughout the world.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a House of Representatives committee that the United States will need to maintain the threat of imposing tariffs on Chinese goods for years even if a deal is struck to end the current dispute. If the centers can not be overhauled, the report says, they should be closed.

Senate investigators, who spent eight months looking into the cultural centers, said they would recommend shutting them down altogether barring significant changes.

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The Chinese government has opened more than 100 Confucius Institutes on college campuses and in more than 500 primary schools and has directly provided more than $158 million to USA schools for the institutes.

As President Donald Trump's administration wages a trade war with China and US intelligence cites concerns about espionage, some members of Congress have offered legislation seeking to control the Confucius Institutes, such as requiring staff to register as foreign agents. The subcommittee will hold a hearing on China's influence on USA education on Thursday. There are 525 such Institutes around the world, but the U.S. has more than any other country, and China is on track to open 1,000 more by 2020.

Besides Confucius Institutes at 100 USA schools, Beijing also funds more than 500 "Confucius Classrooms" that teach Chinese language and culture in primary and high schools. Some U.S. schools contractually agree that both Chinese and U.S. laws will apply ...

Officials at the Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report concludes that the institutes represent a means for Chinese state actors to disseminate propaganda in the US, and also suggests they may serve as assets of China's state-directed intelligence operations.

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