by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A Democrat running for Congress in California worked to bring an educational program sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party into his community’s K-12 classrooms.
As a member of the Hacienda La Puente school board in 2010, Democrat Jay Chen spearheaded an effort to bring the Confucius Classroom program to his district. The program is funded and run by China’s Ministry of Education, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party that provides American K-12 schools with teachers and curriculum materials to teach their students Chinese language and culture. It’s also linked to the CCP’s Confucius Institute program, which provides similar resources to colleges and universities across the United States. The State Department in 2020 labeled that program a Chinese propaganda entity aimed at “advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign,” and CCP officials have acknowledged that Confucius Institutes are “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.”
Roughly a decade after voting to bring a Confucius Classroom to Southern California, Chen is running to unseat freshman congresswoman Michelle Steel (R., Calif.). But the Democrat isn’t distancing himself from his school board tenure—in fact, he’s fundraising off of it. In a recent campaign email, Chen accused Steel of engaging in “anti-Asian racism” and contributing to the “rise in violent, anti-Asian hate crimes” after Steel highlighted Chen’s support for “CCP-sponsored schools.” Chen also dismissed criticism of Confucius Classrooms, which he described merely as a “Chinese language and culture program” that is not tied to the CCP.
Steel spokesman Lance Trover brushed off Chen’s anti-Asian racism charge as “ridiculous,” noting that Steel is one of the first Korean-American women to serve in Congress.
“There is broad bipartisan agreement that Confucius Institutes are an indoctrination effort funded by the Chinese Communist Party,” Trover said.