Texas A&M Shuts Down 2 Chinese Learning Institutes Deemed National Security Threats

Texas Chinese national security threatsTensions between the U.S. and China just reached two college campuses in Texas.

On April 9, the Texas A&M University system announced its intention to close two Confucius Institutes located at its College Station and Prairie View campuses, respectively. The Chinese government-funded institutes offer language and cultural programming for students, but a recent letter from Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, flagged them as “a threat to U.S. national security,” saying they serve “as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda.”

In response, university Chancellor John Sharp decided to close the two institutes. He released a statement saying:

 We have great respect for Congressmen McCaul and Cuellar. I don’t question their judgment, nor their patriotism. In addition, they have access to classified information we do not have. We are terminating the contract as they suggested.

This action follows similar decisions by the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State University to sever their ties with China. Concerns over the Confucius Institutes, which are located at universities around the world, have been growing in recent years and have come under increased scrutiny from members of Congress, the media, and academic organizations like the American Association of University Professors.

Located primarily in the United States and other Western countries, ostensibly to further Chinese language training and cultural programs, the number of institutes funded and controlled by the Chinese Ministry of Education has mushroomed.

According to a 2017 study by the National Association of Scholars, from their beginning in 2004, the number of Confucius Institutes housed at colleges and universities has grown to well over 1,000 worldwide and 103 in the United States. In addition, over 500 Confucius classrooms are housed at American high schools.

In a hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Feb. 15, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked FBI Director Christopher Wray what the intelligence community thinks of this Chinese presence on American campuses of higher education.

Wray confirmed that the FBI is monitoring Confucius Institutes around the U.S. and has ongoing investigations of some of them. He said:

I think the level of naiveté on the part of the academic sector about this creates its own issues. They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere, but they’re taking advantage of it. … [The institutes are] complicit in these efforts to covertly influence public opinion and to teach half-truths designed to present Chinese history, government, or official policy in the most favorable light.

A major problem with the institutes is that the five-year contract signed by the host academic institutions gives the Chinese government total control over staffing and curriculum. According to a report from the National Security Agency, teachers are paid and dispatched by the Chinese government, as are the institutes’ directors.

American academic deans have no input into Confucius activities and course offerings, and may not even know that a Confucius Institute is landing on their campus. But with China offering grants of about $100,000 to $150,000 to cover annual operating expenses and with all staffing expenses paid for, U.S. colleges and universities have gratefully accepted the offer.

Yet in doing so, they have sacrificed their academic integrity and independence, and potentially created inroads for Beijing to “covertly influence public opinion and to teach half-truths” to our students.

From - The Daily Signal - by Helle Dale

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill in TX
4 years ago

The closing of Chinese Learning Institutes is the correct response. China has taken advantage of our country’s lack of proper evaluation and monitoring of foreign organizations. US citizens must realize there are 3 major world powers – China, US, and Russia. China and Russia have always placed their national needs first. The US has not. With Trump that has changed. Regular monitoring of all foreign organizations within the US must be done and organizations closed when improper activities arise or are suspected. Common sense first.

4 years ago

Why is it that the USA is charged with educating the rest of the world and then they stab us in the back. Don’t they have schools in other countries?

4 years ago

I bet Senator McConnell is not a happy insurrection-ist!!!

Josie Lamar
4 years ago

GOOD it’s about time we watch what they’re doing over here, including buy up all our farm land

Aloyisus Fornortener
4 years ago

China’s ruling government is officially a “Communist” party, but it appears to have little in common these days with Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, or Mao Zedong for that matter. Indeed, the modern Chinese government seems to have more in common with Confucius, a philosopher whose thoughts have held sway for thousands of years. That Confucian heritage now appears to be helping the Chinese government influence American universities.

American security experts are warning that the 100-plus Confucius Institutes set up on American college campuses are actually spy hubs and are used to push propaganda.

Many Americans likely know little about Confucius, an ancient Chinese philosopher. However, many college students have encountered “Confucius Institutes” on campus. Given that the teachings of Confucius generally promoted wise, kind, and humble leadership, along with the pursuit of wisdom and other virtuous things, these institutes must be pretty innocuous, right?

Perhaps not. American security experts are warning that the 100-plus Confucius Institutes set up on American college campuses are actually spy hubs and are used to push propaganda. The institutes are also used to keep an eye on the 300,000-plus Chinese students in America, as well as to quell criticism of the Chinese government.

The Institutes are funded through Hanban, a Chinese government entity. Hanban’s approach has been subtle. Rather than trying to rig elections or steal important government secrets, the institutes seem to primarily exist to build up positive opinions towards China.

A January 2016 invite went as follows: “The #ConfuciusInstitute is sponsoring an opportunity for students and faculty to visit China. The mission of the Confucius Institute is to spread awareness and education about the culture of China in our community. This trip will include visits to universities and culture sites, as well as the opportunity to experience food, music, and shopping. This is the chance to immerse your self in everyday life in China.” (Credit: Facebook/Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia)
The use of Confucius is particularly interesting. The Communist Party under Mao had labeled Confucianism as “backward” and “counter-revolutionary.” As China has abandoned its “Communist” vestige, it has also slowly re-embraced Confucianism.

However backward Confucius’s teachings might have seemed in the 1940s and ’50s, much of what he said meshes well with the modern-day Chinese government. Among other things, Confucius emphasized social harmony, respect for elders, and the rule of leaders.

(Credit: Facebook/Confucius Institute)
Americans might not necessarily agree with Confucius. However, his ideas are certainly less threatening than Mao’s. This makes the Confucius Institutes a more ideal way to influence American academia. Being non-profits and reliant on a mix of tuition, government funds, and private donations, universities aren’t quick to turn away funding sources, even from entities like the Chinese government.

However, the United States’ intelligence community and members of Congress are both warning that the institutes have ulterior motives. Besides potentially harboring spies, it appears that the institutes are trying to influence the way Americans think. More specifically, the institutes want to make a “good” impression on America’s future leaders.

FBI Director Christopher Wray vocally raised his concerns during a meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee. The FBI is apparently investigating some of the institutes and watching others with a wary eye.

Senator Marc Rubio (R-Fl) has described the Chinese government’s efforts as follows:

“Their goal is to exploit America’s academic freedom to instill in the minds of future leaders a pro-China viewpoint. It’s smart. It’s a long-term, patient approach.”

So far, several universities have rejected funding from the Chinese government, including Penn State University, the University of Chicago, and the University of West Florida.

4 years ago

I remember DDT was once safe to use. Put a nice name on it [Confucius] might just be masking what is really going on.

4 years ago

About time
Do you think that this stuff
Would have gotten this
Kind of attention during
The Obama era or if Hillary was prez ?

Dr. G
4 years ago

I wonder if any Islamic Centers on campuses affiliated with the Islamic Brotherhood are being nixed?

Ed Miller
4 years ago

Cudos to both the Republican & the Democratic representsitives for having both the good judgement & the courage to recommend this step.
It sounds almost totally like what Is being taught by the extreme Left/Socialistic professors in too many colleges for the last decade or more. Too bad they aren’t recommending this same action

Ivan Berry
4 years ago

Far too many of our higher learning institutions had already sacrificed their academic integrity, even before the Chinese bribed them. They already take Federal dollars for questionable studies, and not just womens’ studies and global warming. What with grants and subsidies and questionable research and the endimic progressiveism that prevails throughout academia, getting away from China’s propoganda is at least a good thing. Now, if they could just get our government out as well, that would be even better.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x