By Professor Doom
These are the days where we’re supposed to be very paranoid over other countries’ influence on our institutions…even as our media refuses to mention how our country influences entire governments of other countries.
That said, the Chinese government does have outposts on our campuses. I see little reason for outrage, as these things are hardly subtle, being called Confucius Institutes—Confucius is a famous Chinese philosopher, so anyone with even minimal education might suspect anything named after him would have a Chinese connection, after all.
Compare this to our various Diversity Institutes, which push a Marxist progressive ideology that you’d never could suspect simply from the word “diversity” (except, of course, for their track record).
Unlike Diversity Institutes which are funded by a student loan scam destroying the lives of millions of American citizens, Confucian Institutes are funded by the Chinese government:
China has directly provided more than $158 million to U.S. universities to host Confucius Institutes since 2006, according to a report from the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released in advance of a hearing on China’s impact on the U.S. educational system scheduled for this morning.
I don’t want to come across as a Chinese apologist, but if they’re paying for it and up front about what they’re doing, I’m not sure I see the problem. Around a $100 billion in student loan money flows onto campus every year, and billions in other taxpayer dollars also end up there. China’s little over $10 million a year hardly seems to be an issue, considering all the problems in higher ed today. The article I’m quoting from sees problems, however.
It alleges that “the Chinese government controls nearly every aspect of Confucius Institutes at U.S. schools,” down to having veto authority over events and activities included in the annual budget submitted for approval...
Oh no! Not veto authority over events they’re paying for! That’s…terrible? Doesn’t the gentle reader have veto authority over everything he pays for (except for taxes, of course)? Someone should tell these people how conservative speakers and Christians are being vetoed off campus. What do these tiny institutes do, anyway?
More than 90 U.S. universities host the CIs, which supporters say offer critical resources for foreign language learning at a time when such resources are hard to find.
So they teach Chinese, mostly. Considering the tiny amounts of funds involved, that seems about right, and seeing as our own universities are shutting down their language departments, I support China doing this (if they deem it important), and other countries wishing to spread knowledge of their languages should do the same…if our own knowledge centers can’t do it on their own anymore (cuts into the lakefront property for the administrators), why not allow this?
At least 10 U.S. universities have moved to close their Confucius Institutes over the past year as scrutiny of the Chinese government-funded centers for language and cultural education has intensified and lawmakers from across the political spectrum have raised concerns about Chinese influence over American higher education.
Nothing wrong with scrutiny, but has anything ever been found? Alas, the article gives no instances of what, exactly, these little institutes are doing wrong (the gentle reader should compare to the number of non-Chinese institutes my blog has identified plundering, embezzling, or otherwise looting student loan money…).
Here’s the worst they have:
The subcommittee obtained a 2018 contract between Hanban and a Chinese instructor requiring the instructor to “conscientiously safeguard national interests.” The contract would terminate if the instructor were to “violate Chinese laws” or “engage in activities detrimental to national interest; participate in illegal organizations and engage in activities against local religions and customs, hence causing bad influences.”
I’ve been forced to sign loyalty oaths as a college teacher, and I’m sure if I acted not in the national interests of America, I’d lose my job, too…I certainly can lose it for violating quite a number of laws. Goodness, if the above job responsibilities really are a problem, they should consider the starvation wages, no benefits, and being forced to lie about the students in their classes, which are all part of the job description for a typical college adjunct, who also must adhere to the above job responsibilities.
They’re really trying to make something out of this, but this is yet another big fat nothing-burger:
GAO found that 64 agreements had language saying "that institute activities would be conducted in accordance with the Confucius Institute constitution and bylaws," but also found that "some school officials we interviewed stated there had been no instance in which the constitution and bylaws had been invoked or conflicted with school policies."
In other words, the evil, draconian policies of China are no different than the policies we already have on campus? Does anybody ever think about the implications of these reports? It’s as cognitively dissonant as taking Cohen’s claims that Trump never intended to win the election…but worked closely with Russia to collude for victory.
Anyway, yes, the Chinese government does indeed have a tiny sliver of influence over our higher education system. If you want to avoid being influenced by “them,” all you need to do is not set foot in any Confucian Institute, and to avoid taking classes in Chinese from a Chinese citizen. Both are pretty easy to do on our campuses.
On the other hand, good luck avoiding Gender Studies and other political indoctrination courses, since those are mandatory.