Chinese bureaucrats want to change the perception of their Communist regime, so they are targeting American schools from kindergarten and beyond with a well-funded propaganda campaign.
A Homeland Security and Government Affairs panel investigation concluded last week and revealed that the Chinese government has funded Confucius Institutes, a $2 billion campaign, of which $158 million is solely for U.S. schools, the Washington Examiner reported.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs panel said, “We learned that schools in the United States — from kindergarten to college — have provided a level of access to the Chinese government that the Chinese government has refused to provide to the United States.”
China targeting American kindergartners for influence operations https://t.co/WpAcmQ9gpi
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 28, 2019
According to the details of the report, “Through Confucius Institutes, the Chinese government is attempting to change the impression in the United States and around the world that China is an economic and security threat.”
Confucius Institutes are currently operating in 44 U.S. states and some states have more than one operating, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The Confucius Institutes conduct classes in all school levels, including kindergarten. The classes are considered to be Chinese cultural and language classes, but they never teach anything about communism or any controversial subjects that are relevant to the Chinese.
The teachers and instructors employed with Confucius Institutes have vowed to “conscientiously safeguard [the] national interests of China in coordination with Chinese Embassy officials in the U.S,” the Washington Examiner stated.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said that Florida has four Confucius Institutes operating and being funded by Beijing, and he has advised them to cancel their programs.
American intelligence and national security officials highly oppose the use of Confucius Institutes and believe these are efforts from the Chinese regime to wager “a cold war” through unconventional means.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “The use of nontraditional collectors, especially in the academic setting — whether it’s professors, scientists, students — we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country.”
Democrat Sen. Tom Carper said, “there is no evidence that these institutes are a center for Chinese espionage efforts.”
Subcommittee investigators say that Chinese officials exploit a visa program for academic researchers in order for Confucius Institute teachers to come to the U.S. They confirmed that “the exchange visitors were using a research scholar visa to teach K-12 schools at the Confucius classrooms.”
One investigator said, “We don’t say anything about whether or not they’re platforms for espionage — traditional collection or nontraditional collection. We asked the State Department basically to give us a list of all Confucius Institute teachers, researchers, directors here in the U.S. and State told us that they don’t collect information specifically pertaining to Confucius Institutes. So, they don’t know how many teachers are here, or where they are, that are linked to Confucius Institutes — which gave us some pause.”
The report concluded, “In all, the State Department documented over 80 instances in the past four years where the Chinese government directly interfered with U.S. diplomacy efforts in China.”
Senator Portman said, “Absent full transparency regarding how Confucius Institutes operate and full reciprocity for U.S. cultural outreach efforts on college campuses in China, Confucius Institutes should not continue in the United States.”