State Department to Require Chinese ‘Confucius Institutes’ to Register as Foreign Agents

14 Août, 2020, 10:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping with US President Donald Trump in Beijing 9 November 2017

US President Donald Trump has unveiled sweeping bans on US transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok. Confucius Institutes, which bill themselves as language and culture programs, have drawn intensified scrutiny in recent months over their role in spreading propaganda and suppressing free speech at USA educational institutions. The Department said they are tracking 75 Confucius Institutes in the USA - 65 of which are actively operating on university campuses, the rest which are standalone.

"We're not kicking them out", he said in a briefing.

The designation requires the the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, based in Washington, to submit reports to the U.S. government about its funding, personnel, curriculum and other activities in the United States.

In January, however, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) expressed a different view. "Our experience has not uncovered any evidence of interference by the Chinese government or infringements on academic freedom".

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Confucius Institutes have become a big part of campus life around the country, but behind the student activities and language programs, the institutes have two more nefarious core objectives: spreading communist propaganda and spying on Chinese students studying in the free world.

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In June, the State Department announced it would start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, calling them mouthpieces for Beijing.

Organizations designated as foreign missions must submit reports to the US government about its funding, personnel, curriculum and activities that occur in the U.S. Were just highlighting the fact that these folks do work for the Ministry of Education of the (Chinese) Communist Party, said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell.

Of some 550 Confucius Institutes around the world, 80 are based at U.S. colleges, including Stanford University and Savannah State University in Georgia, according to the National Association of Scholars, a non-partisan research group that has studied them.

According to Stilwell, the US government is open to restoring good relations with Asian economic giant but expressed frustration that their concerns appear to go unheeded.

"We are having discussions and we're emphasizing to them that they need to address our fundamental concerns, and we will take steps if they do not", Stilwell said, when asked about a recent statement by China's Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng on the need to ensure the relationship does not derail.

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