Since 2004, the Chinese government has planted “Institutes” that offer Chinese language and culture courses at colleges and universities around the world, including more than 100 in the United States. As the National Association of Scholars (NAS) documented in this report, the Confucius Institutes avoid Chinese political history and human rights abuses, portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China, and educate a generation of American students to know nothing more of China than the regime’s official history.
So thorough is the whitewash that the Chinese director of one Institute admitted that if a student asked about Tiananmen Square, she would “show a picture and point out the beautiful architecture.”
I’m happy to report that the Texas A&M system announced today that it will end its relationship with the Confucius Institute. A&M does not offer Chinese language courses through the Institute, but it does use the Institute to bring in visiting scholars to teach lessons about Chinese culture. Any lessons taught through the assistance of the Confucius Institute are likely to be propaganda, and best left untaught.
Texas A&M acted in response to a statement by two Texas congressmen — Republican Michael McCaul and Democrat Henry Cuellar — that urged several Texas universities to cut ties with Confucius Institutes. The University of Texas at Dallas says it’s reviewing the matter. UT-San Antonio defended its Institute, claiming that it’s under the university’s full control, but promised to “do our due diligence in evaluating [the congressmens’] concerns.
Pressure from politicians may be the most effective way to rid college campuses of Confucius Institutes. Without such pressure, the path of least resistance for colleges and universities is to take advantage of Chinese money and perks. Political pressure is apt to be particularly effective when its bipartisan, as it was when McCaul and Cuellar joined forces.
Texas A&M becomes the third school recently to ditch its Confucius Institute. The other two are the University of West Florida and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Expect more colleges to follow suit.
We may not be able to win a trade war with China (a subject I plan to write about soon), but surely we still have it in us to keep the Chinese government from waltzing into our institutions of education and waging ideological warfare.