The State Department announced last week that it will change the official designation for an academic institution in the U.S. The Confucius Institute U.S. Center, which has ties to the Chinese Communist government, will be designated as a “foreign mission” due to its alleged role in “advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”
The designation change does not directly affect campus-based Confucius Institutes across the U.S., but the head office in D.C. will provide the State Department with regular funding, personal and operations reports. Inside Higher Ed reported that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David Stillwell, said that the directive asks universities to “take a hard look at what those institutes are doing on their campuses.”
Confucius Institute U.S. Center’s executive director, Gao Qing, said that the Confucius Institute is “more than happy to work with the State Department and their request for more information.” Qing also criticized the designation change and said, “Clearly caught up in the international saber rattling, this naked political opportunism is in serious need of a fact check.”
The State Department’s press release noted that the Confucius Institute’s funding comes from the Chinese Communist Party as a part of its “global influence and propaganda apparatus.” The department reasoned that the organization’s designation change will “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.” It also emphasized the importance of ensuring U.S. students “have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.”
According to federal officials, there are 75 Confucius Institutes in the United States, with 65 on college campuses.
The Trump State Department continues its aggressive pursuit of organizations and groups with Chinese Communist Party ties and interests in the United States, as demonstrated in its latest case against four Chinese nationals who allegedly spied on American research and higher education institutions.