The State Department on Thursday designated the de facto U.S. headquarters of the Confucius Institute network a “foreign mission” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the latest move in the Trump administration’s efforts to combat Beijing’s “global propaganda” and “malign influence.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in a statement:
For more than four decades, Beijing has enjoyed free and open access to U.S. society, while denying that same access to Americans and other foreigners in China. Furthermore, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] has taken advantage of America’s openness to undertake large scale and well-funded propaganda efforts and influence operations in this country.
Specifically, State targeted the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS), considered to be the de facto Washington, DC-based headquarters of the organization’s network.
Pompeo further stated:
The goal of these actions is simple: to ensure that American educators and school administrators can make informed choices about whether these CCP-backed programs should be allowed to continue, and if so, in what fashion.
This action will not close the CIUS, nor will it require U.S. colleges or universities to close individual Confucius Institutes. Instead, designating the CIUS as a foreign mission will ensure much-needed transparency by requiring the CIUS to regularly provide information to the State Department about PRC citizen personnel, recruiting, funding, and operations in the United States.
Pompeo described the targeted institute as “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”
Currently, 75 Confucius Institutes are operating across the United States, including 65 active on university campuses. The remaining institutes function as standalone organizations.
“There are around 500 Confucius Classrooms based on K-12 campuses,” a State fact sheet revealed. “Most are affiliated with one of the university-based Confucius Institutes.”
Beijing funds Confucius Institutes across the world to push Chinese influence and propaganda.
Already strained U.S.-China relations deteriorated further amid the spread of the coronavirus that started in Wuhan.
Chinese propaganda has suggested the disease started outside China.
Beijing has reportedly been trying to steal U.S. research linked to the coronavirus vaccine.
The Confucius Institute designation came after the Trump administration moved to shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston for allegedly trying to steal data from medical facilities at universities in Texas.
Trump administration officials have accused China of hiding the extent of the outbreak during its early stages with the help of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), hindering global efforts to respond to the pandemic.
In April, Pompeo accused Beijing of destroying Chinese coronavirus samples collected early, making it far more difficult to trace the virus’s origin.
The U.S. is investigating whether the disease started inside Wuhan lab rather than through contact with an infected animal.