The Chinese government is infiltrating American universities in the name of Confucius.
That’s the title of a documentary about the billion dollar Confucius Institute program. The film documents how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses the program to export propaganda to American colleges and universities.
These Institutes avoid teaching Chinese political history and human rights abuses; portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China; and follow the CCP’s speech censorship rules, all under the guise of teaching Chinese language and culture.
The institutes provide financial incentives for professors, students, university staff, and the university itself, and in return restricts what the professors can teach. It also asks that contracts be kept secret.
“This is an attractive gift to many colleges and universities, especially when they can consider these courses for credit, and then charge students tuition for the classes that they’re basically receiving for free. So for many universities it’s a financial decision,” said Rachelle Peterson, director of research projects for National Association of Scholars (NAS).
Unfortunately, the concerns about academic freedom fall to the back of the table.
The NAS screened “In the Name of Confucius” last week.
“It turns out that they are much more an extension of Chinese state power in the American university, and that took me by surprise,” said Peter Wood, president of NAS.
The NAS had previously published a report titled “Outsourced to China, Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education,” covering the same issues as the documentary.
The report states the CCP’s Confucius Institutes “educate a generation of American students to know nothing more of China than the regime’s official history.”
The United States currently has 103 Confucius Institutes and 501 Confucius classrooms—the most in the world.
“It wakes them up to the fact—of something that all of us in the Western world are really naive about, we don’t realize we are the target of this whole effort to shift our perceptions and we need to be aware of it so I think the film does an excellent job at a beginning level of waking people up to what the Chinese government aims are, and what they’re doing,” said Paul Coyer, professor at the Institute of World Politics.
The NAS recommends that universities with the institutes shut them down or distance from them.
“Every university with a Confucius Institute should close that Confucius Institute. This is an improper concession to the Chinese government. It’s an intrusion into American higher education, and it’s time to stop outsourcing the college classroom to a foreign government,” said Peterson, author of the report.
Schools around the United States are already heeding that call. At least eight institutions, including the University of Chicago, have closed their institutes over concerns of academic independence.