Archive for February 14th, 2021

Biden Kow Tows

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The Biden Administration, less than a week after taking office, has reversed a proposed Trump Administration rule that would have required colleges and universities to disclose their operating agreements with Confucius Institutes.

The Institutes are popular with US schools because the Chinese government picks up the tab and provides the teachers and materials, while the university or college need only provide the venue and the students. They give colleges a turn-key operation that teaches Chinese language, history, and culture, often where there was no such offering available before.

Of course, that also comes with strings – the Chinese get to dictate the curriculum. The teachers are also skilled at deflecting, ignoring, or marginalizing uncomfortable questions about Uyghur genocide, Hong Kong suppression, Tibetan imperialism, or designs on Taiwanese democracy.

And with so many Chinese students attending US colleges, the Institutes provide a convenient base from which to keep eyes on them. One of the selling points of letting us train the next generation of Chinese scientists and engineers is that they’ll take home their exposure to US freedoms, leading to domestic discontent among the Chinese middle class with the CCP’s repression. Spies at the CIs aim both to keep close watch on the Chinese students here, and to remind them that they usually have vulnerable family back home.

All of this led the Trump Administration both to its belated effort to require schools to disclose the terms of their arrangements, and to its designation of CIs as Chinese foreign missions.

Biden’s move comes at a time when these institutes have come under intense scrutiny both from the US government and from students themselves, leading schools to begin closing them. If Biden’s foreign policy team tries to relieve that pressure, it could extend their presence on US soil.

Worse than that, it signals an unwillingness to interfere with the ongoing Chinese purchase of the US elite institutions, and the creation of battalions of progressive advocates and apologists for the Chinese system here in the US.

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