China’s Determined Assault on U.S. Education

China’s Determined Assault on U.S. Education

According to a deeply troubling  study by Parents Defending Education American education at all levels  is still being deeply influenced by Communist China.

The report, entitled Little Red Classrooms, follows up on 2022 research from the National Association of Scholars

Confucius Institutes, funded with $10 billion from Beijing, essentially spread pro-China propaganda. Since 2004, the Chinese government planted about 100 Confucius Institutes in the United States. “These Institutes avoid Chinese political history and human rights abuses, portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China, and educate a generation of American students to know nothing more of China than the regime’s official history. “

The reality that Confucius Institutes and Beijing’s other efforts to influence American youth are propaganda efforts was outlined in a report by a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations analysis.  “Confucius Institute funding comes with strings that can compromise academic freedom. The Chinese government approves all teachers, events, and speakers. Some U.S. schools contractually agree that both Chinese and U.S. laws will apply. The Chinese teachers sign contracts with the Chinese government pledging they will not damage the national interests of China. Such limitations attempt to export China’s censorship of political debate and prevent discussion of potentially politically sensitive topics. Indeed, U.S. school officials told the Subcommittee that Confucius Institutes were not the place to discuss controversial topics like the independence of Taiwan or the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. As one U.S. school administrator explained to the Subcommittee, when something is ‘funded by the Chinese government, you know what you’re getting.’”

After outrage from the U.S. public, many of these sites were forced to close.  But Parents Defending Education has uncovered contracts that show Confucius Classrooms, or other Chinese government backed programing, are still in operation at a variety of sites. It was found that:Three of the nation’s top science and technology high schools have ties to Chinese government affiliated programs.

In March, Parents Defending Education uncovered that a nonprofit linked to a major tech school had received more than $1 million in financial aid from Chinese government-affiliated entities over the course of a decade.  Further research reveals the People’s Republic of China fostered relationships with American K-12 schools through grants, sister school partnerships, and other programming since at least 2009. Parents Defending Education tracked affiliations in 143 schools across 34 states and Washington, D.C.—and at least seven are still active. Financial exchanges between K-12 schools and the Chinese government range from a few thousand dollars to, more than a million dollars. Disturbingly, the Chinese government’s ties appear to target school districts near 20 American military bases.

The National Association of Scholars reports that the demise of Confucius Institutes (CIs), one of China’s most strategic beachheads in American higher education, has not deterred the Chinese government from seeking alternative means of influencing American colleges and universities. It has used an all-of-the-above approach to protecting its spheres of influence on American higher education, ranging from full-throated defenses of Confucius Institutes to threats. Among its most successful tactics, however, has been the effort to rebrand Confucius Institute-like programs under other names.

Many once-defunct Confucius Institutes have since reappeared in other forms. 28 institutions have replaced (and 12 have sought to replace) their closed Confucius Institute with a similar program. 58 have maintained (and 5 may have maintained) close relationships with their former CI partner. 5 have (and 3 may have) transferred their Confucius Institute to a new host, thereby keeping the CI alive. The single most popular reason institutions give when they close a CI is to replace it with a new Chinese partnership program. Institutions have entered new sister university agreements with Chinese universities, established “new” centers closely modeled on defunct Confucius Institutes, and even continued to receive funding from the same Chinese government agencies that funded the Confucius Institutes.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government

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