China accused of trying to indoctrinate American children

China accused of trying to indoctrinate American children

‘America’s News HQ’ host Eric Shawn has the latest on Beijing’s influence on the American school system.

Critics say Beijing is trying to indoctrinate U.S. students into liking the communist system.

“What we see from the Chinese Communist Party is they found a loophole,” charges Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn.

“They looked at this as a part of their soft power and a way to push their propaganda.”

Blackburn, and others, are taking aim at a Chinese educational program that is taught in some of our nation’s elementary and high schools, known as Confucius classrooms. The lessons are backed by Beijing’s Confucius Institute, a global educational program that has been widespread in U.S. universities.

However, some of the institutes have been shut down and kicked off American campuses, accused of spreading pro-China content in their curriculum. Now U.S. educational experts are worried that a generation younger than college-age is also being targeted.

FILE: People take selfies of the Pudong skyline as they stand on the Bund in Shanghai, China. 

“It’s deeply alarming to see the propaganda being taught to American students, but it’s even more alarming to see the way that the institutions that students depend on their schools, their teachers, their principals, administrators, how these institutions and these leaders are being molded and shaped to accept the Chinese government’s incursions and even to promote them in the name of globalism and intercultural communication,” says Rachelle Peterson, Senior Research Fellow at the National Association of Scholars.

Peterson charges Beijing’s real goal is to spread Chinese Communist Party policies in the American educational system. The institute’s lessons, which include offering the Mandarin language and Chinese culture — also according to critics — censor the truth.

The absence of teaching about the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, where the government massacred demonstrators who took to the streets to demand democracy is often cited as a part of the censoring. It also has been said that it teaches that the independent nation of Taiwan is part of China.

Peterson has studied the institutes for many years and was one of the first to ring the alarm bell. She says that while “American students do need to learn Chinese. they need exposure to Chinese culture, but not on the Chinese government’s terms. Confucius classrooms are an inappropriate tool and it’s time to let them go.”

China claims that the effort is a way to reach out to young people to teach Chinese culture and language, but the Trump administration was so concerned about the programs that late last year it sanctioned the Institutes. It must register the same way as foreign diplomatic missions are considered foreign entities.

While the Confucius Institute did not respond to Fox News’ questions about its mission, a spokesperson from the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C. took issue with criticism aimed at the institute and classrooms, calling the claims “unfortunate…politicized lies.”

“The Confucius Institutes or classrooms are open and transparent and come in strict compliance with laws and regulations of the host institutions. Confucius Institutes and classrooms have been proved to be a bridge connecting the US and China in educational and cultural exchanges,” said the Chinese embassy spokesman’s statement in part.

Still, Sen. Blackburn is having none of it.

The veteran legislator told Fox News that her goal was to, “end these Confucius Institutes and classrooms in the United States.”

Blackburn, who found herself sanctioned by the Chinese government last month because of her activism on the issue of Chinese policies, has already successfully passed legislation aimed at curbing the classrooms and Institutes. Her “Confucius Act” passed the Senate by unanimous consent last year, but failed in the House. She will continue the cause this year under the Biden administration.

“What has happened is the Chinese Communist Party uses these institutes to push their propaganda. They say and claim that this is all for language and cultural education,” said Blackburn, “But what they have admitted is this is a part of their soft power and their propaganda.”

“They want to make certain that they are causing children today to be more friendly to the socialist Marxist ideas that they espouse in the Chinese Communist party, and that these children will grow up being more friendly and accepting of Chinese Communist party propaganda or of Chinese culture.”

The State Department recently estimated that there were about 500 Confucius classrooms operating in the U.S.

Sen. Blackburn thinks “it’s important that we separate the Chinese people from the actions of the Chinese Communist party, and as we know that they have pushed forward with trying to expand these institutes and we know they’re very frustrated with us, that now we’re requiring transparency.”

But the existence of the Confucius programs seems deeply entwined in the American education system.

The Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington also stated to Fox News that  “all Confucius Institutes and classrooms in the US are jointly established in American universities and schools based on voluntary application and in line with the principle of mutual respect, friendly consultation, equality and mutual benefit between American and  Chinese participating partners.”

The spokesman also noted that “Each Confucius Institute or classroom program is designed, run, and managed by the American university or school, with its teaching contents and management under oversight of the American institution.”

But the senior senator from Tennessee wants them out.

“What we would like to see is a package of legislation that would be passed and signed into law that would prohibit these institutes from functioning in our K-through-12 classrooms and on our college campuses,” she says.

“We know that that is going to be difficult if we have an administration that is going to be more friendly to China…and this is important. It’s important to the future of our nation. It’s important to the education of our children. So, we are pushing forward with this every single day.”

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