The Confucius Institute has been designated a ‘foreign mission’ and will now be watched closely. This is long overdue.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

New Federal Scrutiny of Confucius Institutes

The State Department announced Thursday that it was designating the Washington, D.C.-based Confucius Institute U.S. Center a “foreign mission” of the People’s Republic of China.

The center coordinates language and cultural programs for the Confucius Institutes, Chinese government-funded centers for language education and cultural programming, at colleges across the United States. The institutes have run afoul of Congressional lawmakers who see them as vehicles for disseminating Chinese government propaganda in U.S. classrooms.

This latest move by the State Department reflects another way in which an increasingly adversarial and competitive relationship between the U.S. and China has affected academic exchange. The State Department says the designation recognizes the Confucius Institute U.S. Center “for what it is: an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.

State Department officials said in a press briefing that the designation of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center does not directly affect campus-based Confucius Institutes, but does mean that the coordinating office in Washington will have to provide the State Department with regular reports about funding, personnel and operations of Confucius Institutes and Confucius classrooms across the U.S. and to provide information about curriculum and training material.

David R. Stillwell, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the designation “is not going after Confucius centers per se, although we would ask that universities again take a hard look at what those institutes are doing on their campuses and then decide for themselves if this is something that supports and advances academic freedom and our democratic values, or not.”


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