Over the past few decades, colleges have acquired an unfortunate yet accurate reputation of promoting anti-American values. From squashing campus free speech rights to condemning America’s actions and policies, many college administrators and professors have painted an ugly portrait of Americanism to impressionable students while heralding the “superior” values of other societies.
It appears the Chinese government is joining forces with college leaders in this disturbing effort.
According to Politico, China is quietly infiltrating our colleges and sprinkling in communist propaganda through a program called the Confucius Institute. College administrators like to deny or overlook the program’s sinister motives, arguing that it helps students become global citizens.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is one of the latest schools to open a branch, joining a list of about 100 campuses in the U.S. and 500-plus campuses worldwide that host the Confucius Institute. Nancy Gutierrez, UNC-Charlotte Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, believes the program will “broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community,” according to a press release.
However, Chinese government officials have publicly admitted, and even boasted, about the program’s deceptive nature.
As Li Changchun, a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing observed back in 2011, “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad. It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”
In a 2010 People’s Daily article, Chinese minister of propaganda Liu Yunshan championed the establishment of more Confucius Institutes to “[c]oordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for [China].”
Moreover, the program’s top leadership is dominated by Chinese government officials, including representatives from China’s propaganda bureau.
The Confucius Institute has been accused by critics of silencing human rights issues through self-censorship and direct intervention. Once established, the program’s leaders reportedly have gained an uncontrollable influence over campus activities.
While some organizations of students and professors have protested the program’s existence and influence on campuses, Confucius Institutes continue to spread like a virus, feeding off of colleges’ economic desperation and superficial desire to be diverse and inclusive. Universities have handed the reins to their Chinese language and culture programs over to Chinese communists, sacrificing what remains of their values and principles along the way.
Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is a freelance journalist in California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.