A photo of the student union at Penn State, one of the campuses receiving money from China for so-called Confucius Institutes, in an article by Allen West on the Old School Patriot.

REPORT: Foreign Influence on Campuses

In Education, Foreign Policy, Front Page, National Security by Allen WestLeave a Comment

Conservatives know of the blatant censorship of non-progressive socialist ideals on many US college and university campuses. I mean, honestly ask yourselves: how does someone such as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez graduate with a degree in Economics from Boston University? Needless to say, her money would have been better spent at an institution such as Northwood University in Midland Michigan where she would have learned about free market/free enterprise economics. Someone with an Economics degree espousing a 70% top tax rate studied more Marx, Engels, and Keynes rather than Hayek and Friedman.

But, that hypocrisy is not the topic of this Old School Patriot Memo, nope. Recently we shared with you the story about how the government of Qatar is funding academic programs on certain campuses here in America. What we found rather disturbing was the fact that Qatar does not exactly share the same perspective on human rights as those little social justice warriors, or some professors, on the campuses of these institutions of higher learning. But, I guess it is all about the money.

Well, we have another example of foreign influence on our college and university campuses, perhaps not a surprise, however. Maybe the right word is not “influence,” but rather infiltration?

As reported by Inside Higher Ed:

“The tide may be turning for the Chinese government-funded centers of Chinese language and cultural education as universities grapple with calls from Washington to close the institutes down. Over past year [sic] at least 10 have closed or announced plans to close. 

At least 10 American universities have moved to close their Confucius Institutes in the past year as political pressures over the Chinese government-funded institutions for language and culture education have intensified. 

The Confucius Institutes have long been controversial. The centers vary somewhat across different campuses, but they typically offer some combination of Mandarin language classes, cultural programming and outreach to K-12 schools and the community more broadly. They are staffed in part with visiting teachers from China and funded by the Chinese government, with matching resources provided by the host institution. The number of U.S. universities hosting the institutes increased rapidly after the first was established at the University of Maryland College Park in 2004, growing to more than 90 at the peak. 

In earlier years the main criticism of CIs, as the institutions are known, came from professors and centered on concerns about academic freedom and institutional autonomy. Concerns about the importation of Chinese state censorship — as in the case of the reported censorship of materials at a Confucius Institute-sponsored conference in Europe in 2014 — dominated the conversation. Emblematic of this strain of criticism, the American Association of University Professors issued a report in 2014 urging colleges to close their CIs or renegotiate the agreement to ensure academic freedom and control. The AAUP report asserted, “Most agreements establishing Confucius Institutes feature nondisclosure clauses and unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China. Specifically, North American universities permit Confucius Institutes to advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

Largely the concerns of the professors were ignored by institutions, which continued existing institutes or started new ones up. But over the last year and half, the locus of the debate over Confucius Institutes has shifted from academe to the political sphere as the CIs became tied up in a larger narrative in Washington about Chinese government-influenced activities and espionage-related threats on American campuses.”

I think we need to ask a very pertinent question here: why is an avowed communist country allowed to have an academic influence on the campuses of American colleges and universities?

How can it be that this is allowed in America? Another example of a state-sponsored intrusion into our institutions of higher learning . . . Qatar and China? When it comes to the issue of academic freedom, we have a totally different perspective on that from the Chinese government. Heck, in China, individual freedoms, liberties, are severely restrained. So, what type of cultural education does one get from the Confucius Institute? That freedom of the press and expression are irrelevant? Does one learn that government censorship is acceptable? I mean let’s be for real, the true violator of climate change objectives is China, but they are not held accountable whatsoever. Remember the Paris Climate Accords did nothing to the Chinese. As a matter of fact, President Trump’s economic confrontation with China is having a detrimental effect on Chinese manufacturing and production. Plants and factories are inoperable, meaning skies are actually clear in some Chinese cities. How is that for an unintended consequence?

Here we have government-funded Chinese Confucius Institutes that may possibly just be platforms to advance the Chinese strategy of intellectual property theft. Or maybe China is forcing some of these campuses to transfer certain technologies over to them. We know that Chinese communications platforms such as Huawei and ZTE are state-owned, and furthering the goals of the ChiComs in every way. One may want to ask, who does the communications network for these CIs, as they are called? Could it be that Huawei and ZTE could have the ability to tie into campus information systems, and therefore, hack away and drain out whatever information they desire?

The article continues:

“Some universities have closed the institutes in direct response to concerns voiced by lawmakers. This was true in the case of Texas A&M University, which promptly announced the closure of institutes on two of the system’s campuses last April after two Texas congressmen called for them to be shuttered, characterizing the Confucius Institutes as a “threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda.”

Other universities that have moved to close their Confucius Institutes over the past year cite various reasons related to changing strategies, low enrollments in Chinese language classes or budgetary constraints. University leaders have also expressed concerns about the implications of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law last August, which prohibits the Defense Department from funding Chinese language programs at institutions that host Confucius Institutes except in cases in which the institutions have obtained a waiver. At least one institution — the University of Rhode Island — has opted to close its Confucius Institute so as not to jeopardize funding for its Defense Department-funded Chinese Language Flagship program.”

I just have to ask, do you think that the progressive socialists of the left would be okay with Putin, the Russian government, sponsoring an institute on American campuses? I am quite sure that the DoD can develop its own Chinese language program, without the assistance of Chinese state-sponsored Confucius Institutes. Funny thing, Texas A&M was also on the list of American colleges and universities getting funding from the Qatar Foundation . . . hmm.

Of course, there are those who are not happy about this and now accuse the United States of censoring a country that censors.

Gao Qing, the executive director of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, said misinformation about the CIs “has complicated both the public’s understanding of the issues and the universities’ responses” to the growing political pressures.” The CIs, he said, represent partnerships between American universities and Chinese universities “established for the mutual benefit of joint educational and cultural exchange.” 

Gao said they are directed by a faculty or staff member appointed by the host institution with the help of an associate director from the Chinese partner university. “Individual CIs’ curriculum are built and evaluated by their American host universities with complete autonomy,” he said. “CIs adhere to the same principles of governance and academic freedom applicable to all institutes and departments in the university. The Chinese instructors sent from Chinese partner universities are invited, vetted, and supervised by American host institutions as visiting scholars.”

“In the past year, we have seen growing pressures and allegations on Confucius Institutes and their host universities based on those misunderstandings and misinformation but not valid evidence,” Gao said.”

The vital aspect of this situation is that these Confucius Institutes are not funded by the private sector. The Chinese government — a communist government — funds them. Therefore, just as with Qatar, whose principles and values are completely incompatible with ours, their government, or any state-owned corporation, should not be promoting academic programs on our campuses. As well, I find it disingenuous that a country that does not practice academic freedom, heck, any freedoms, wants to lecture the United States on said topic.

So who are the colleges and universities affected?

“In Florida, three of the four colleges and universities that host Confucius Institutes — the Universities of North, West and South Florida — have announced closures of their institutes since their home state senator, Rubio, sent a letter urging them to do so last February (the fourth, Miami Dade College, confirmed that its CI is still operating and that there has been no change to its status). 

A University of Rhode Island spokeswoman said in a statement that after a review of the law, “we determined there are too many challenges to overcome in order to renew the agreement with the Confucius Institute” and that it would dissolve the CI before May 31. 

“We have learned that continuing with the Confucius Institute could jeopardize federal funding for the university’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, which is a highly successful language academic program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense,” the Rhode Island statement said. 

Several other institutions with both Chinese Language Flagship programs and Confucius Institutes — Arizona StateSan Francisco State and Western Kentucky Universities and the Universities of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Oregon — told Inside Higher Ed they have applied for waivers to allow them to keep both programs. A Defense Department spokeswoman said that all institutions that host Defense-funded National Security Education programs in Chinese and a Confucius Institute have been given the opportunity to submit requests for waivers in order to be eligible for funding for the current fiscal year. She said the requests are currently under review. Other institutions that have announced closures of Confucius Institutes within the last 12 months include the Universities of IowaMichigan at Ann Arbor and Minnesota at Twin Cities and North Carolina State University.

In addition to these institutions, Tufts University has charged a committee with reviewing its CI, and a decision on whether to renew the CI agreement when it expires in June has not been made yet pending receipt of the committee’s recommendations. The recently announced closures follow on closures of the CIs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 2017; Pennsylvania State University, in 2014; and the University of Chicago, where more than 100 faculty members had signed a petition calling for the closure in 2014. North of the border, in Ontario, McMaster University closed its CI in 2013 after a visiting instructor from China claimed the university was “giving legitimization to discrimination” because her contract with Hanban — the Chinese government entity that sponsors the institutes — prohibited her participation in the religious organization Falun Gong.”

This story reminded me of the one minute video that was done about nine years ago. Perhaps you remember it. I’ve linked it below. I think it best we stop allowing our nation to be undermined by way of our college and university campus academic programs. It is bad enough that we have progressive socialists on these campuses . . . we do not need state-sponsored Islamic jihadism and Chinese communism, as well.