by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Our nation has endured revolution, civil war, world war, and cold war. We have survived every kind of hardship and won. Today, we are in a new kind of war: a war of information.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rise to illegitimate prosperity is one of the greatest threats to the American way of life, and it’s been fueled by the theft and abuse of information at every turn, from intellectual-property theft to unfair trade practices to the spread of propaganda that obscures the CCP’s intentions and covers its tracks.
This is not an abstract phenomenon playing out in the remote realm of geo-politics; it is happening in blatant view of all of us. Right here in our own state of South Carolina, home to some of the nation’s greatest schools and universities, the CCP is exerting — and growing — its influence.
Under the direction of top officials in the CCP’s Office of Overseas Propaganda, China has established a network of 50 so-called Confucius Institutes at American educational institutions. In 2009, Li Changchun, then head of agitprop for the CCP, called these outposts “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Their M.O. is simple: China gives American host institutions cash, and CCP operatives get to teach a distorted, regime-friendly history of the Chinese state to American students. Meanwhile, those same operatives get to live in close proximity to all the resources of our modern research universities, and to important inside information about the sensitive, and often taxpayer-funded, activities of our brightest minds.
American institutions of higher education are not the only targets of the CCP’s influence, however. While Confucius Institutes are often headquartered on university campuses, their reach extends to every level of education.