The Long-Term Contagion From China

Thanks to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Americans grow increasingly aware of the threat China poses both globally and in the United States. Yet many still don’t know the true extent of it.

They think of the Chinese threat (rightly) as coming from our dependence on cheap imports and its harmful effect on domestic manufacturing; the dangerous amount of America’s national debt they hold; and now increasingly, they understand China’s control of the medical supply chain.

But this moment of heightened awareness serves as an opportunity to highlight another threat hiding in plain sight on our college and university campuses. They’re called Confucius Institutes and they’re nothing less than a well-coordinated infiltration of higher education by a hostile foreign government.

Confucius Institutes are Chinese government-funded entities formed to promote Chinese propaganda to America’s student body under the guise of Chinese language studies. Right now, there are 107 Confucius Institutes located across 45 states. Even Politico, hardly a nationalist publication, pointed out the threat back in January 2018. That story noted:

A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,” Li Changchun said. “It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power [emphasis added]. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”

Their purpose is not to educate America’s students, it’s to reprogram them. It was why I first created the website ChinaOnCampus.com in early 2019. It’s also why a 2019 Defense Authorization Act smartly limited Pentagon funding for language programs at any university that sanctioned a Confucius Institute on campus.

For anyone who says that a CI chapter is simply about promoting culture, they’re right in a way. But it is promoting a culture of intolerance and authoritarian control with a long record of human rights abuses: Intolerance of the West and of Christianity; authoritarian control of anything from the press and social media to political dissent, most famously in Hong Kong; and human rights abuses against the unborn and millions of Uighur Muslims.

Pew Research reported that between 2004-16 more than 1.5 million foreign students obtained permission to stay here and work after their graduation. Of those, 53 percent graduated with degrees in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This means they are being placed into positions that control every conceivable element of infrastructure vitally important to our national security. They work around our power grids, our cell phone networks, and in every other American industry that could cause gridlock if disrupted.

These graduates stay in the United States through what is called the Optional Practical Training Program (OPT). Of the 1.5 million who have stayed, 21 percent come from China. This means more than 300,000 workers holding positions in key areas of specialization throughout our country.

There are now 369,548 Chinese students, up from 98,235 just 10 years ago, studying at U.S. universities. This 300 percent increase, coupled with the exposure of China’s expansionist tendencies, should be a cause of concern for any rational American.

This is not xenophobia. This is a rational reaction to the dangers of ignoring obvious national security risks for the sake of progressive woke culture or globalism.

China is depending on exploiting our politically-correct-at-all-costs culture. I certainly don’t mean to implicate or demonize all Chinese-born students or workers (some are certainly here for legitimate and positive reasons) but how can we be sure? It’s simply a fact that many of these workers are engaged in corporate espionage on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. Just last week a Chinese-born man trained in spycraft was sentenced to four years prison after an FBI counterintelligence operation revealed he was working on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security.

Knowing all of this, how can we continue to let China’s state-sponsored propaganda outposts thrive on America’s college campuses?

The Chinese induced global pandemic has awakened many to the national security risks posed by the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party. Yes, the CCP threats include potential disruption to global supply chains, financial markets, and deadly pandemics, but the “soft power” spread by Confucius Institutes on colleges and universities is another type of virus that we must immediately quarantine from American culture.

If we don’t, we only confirm the Chinese government’s assumption that we are indeed fools.

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