U.S. slaps foreign mission designation on China’s Confucius Institutes

by WorldTribune Staff, August 13, 2020

The U.S. State Department on Thursday designated China’s Confucius Institutes a foreign mission of Beijing, charging that the institutes which are present at hundreds of U.S. colleges and classrooms are Chinese-funded propaganda efforts.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Confucius Institute U.S. Center is “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms” and is working to expand the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “global influence.”

The organization is “substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government and mandates it follow administrative requirements that reflect those for other diplomatic missions like embassies and consulates,” Pompeo said.

Related: Report samples China’s nationwide infiltration of universities, May 27, 2020

The Trump Administration “has made it a priority to seek fair and reciprocal treatment from the People’s Republic of China. 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,” Pompeo said. “Furthermore, the PRC has taken advantage of America’s openness to undertake large scale and well-funded propaganda efforts and influence operations in this country.”

The goal of the designation, Pompeo said, is “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. Universities around the country and around the world are examining the Confucius Institutes’ curriculum and the scope of Beijing’s influence in their education systems. The United States wants to ensure that students on U.S. campuses have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, noted that “Confucius Institutes have become a big part of campus life around the country, but behind the student activities and language programs, the institutes have two more nefarious core objectives: spreading communist propaganda and spying on Chinese students studying in the free world. Beijing’s public diplomacy relies on these communist outposts so they should be forced to register as foreign missions.”

The institutes have also come under scrutiny from other nations, which have warned that the organization’s branches could serve as outposts for Chinese espionage efforts. A 2013 report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said the institutes were a cover for Beijing’s efforts to spy on Canadian intelligence.

Private charter flights between U.S. and Cuba suspended

The Trump administration on Thursday suspended private charter flights from the United States to all Cuban airports, including Havana, the State Department announced.

“This action will suspend all charter flights between the United States and Cuba over which the Department of Transportation exercises jurisdiction, except for authorized public charter flights to and from Havana and other authorized private charter flights for emergency medical purposes, search and rescue, and other travel deemed in the interest of the United States,” Pompeo said. “This administration will continue to target and cut the revenue the Cuban government earns from landing fees, stays in regime-owned hotels, and other travel-related income.”

The Cuban military and intelligence services “own and operate the great majority of hotels and tourism infrastructure in Cuba,” Pompeo noted. “We urge travelers of all nationalities to consider this and to make responsible decisions regarding travel to Cuba. The suspension of private charter flights will deny economic resources to the Castro regime and inhibit its capacity to carry out abuses.”

Pompeo continued: “Our message to the Castro regime has been clear: The United States will continue to stand up for the Cuban people and against the regime’s abuses and its interference in Venezuela to prop up Maduro’s illegitimate hold on power.

“Unfortunately, the Castro regime has not changed its repressive and undemocratic behavior. It continues to imprison journalists and democracy activists, to oversee horrific physical abuse, to perpetuate the de facto dictatorship in Venezuela, to repress freedom of religion or belief, and to silence and intimidate those who speak truth about the reality in Cuba.”

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