A Chinese government program, the Confucius Institute, disseminates pro-Beijing propaganda on American college campuses and has the full support of a top Biden State Department nominee.
Joe Biden’s choice for undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland, praised the Confucius Institute, which is Chinese government-funded, being integrated at American Universities at a 2012 press conference.
Nuland, then an Obama administration spokeswoman, praised the campus institutes as a crucial part of “people-to-people exchange” between the two superpowers, dismissing concerns about Chinese ambition.
A reporter asked Nuland if the Obama administration was concerned about “the Confucius Institute’s expansion in the U.S. as the strongest Chinese soft power?”
“No,” Nuland responded. “This [Confucius Institute] is something that we support. It’s part of the people-to-people understanding.”
The Confucius Institute quickly expanded its influence during the Obama era, establishing itself at more than 100 American universities and colleges during its peak in 2017, despite warnings about the Chinese Communist Party’s influence. Several government reports found the Chinese government exercised high degrees of control over campus institutes, barring their instructors from teaching taboo topics such as Tibet or Hong Kong. Frequently, instructors were contractually obligated to follow Chinese law even when teaching on American soil.
Nuland’s sympathetic comments about the Confucius Institute could ruffle feathers in the Senate, which will decide whether to confirm the former diplomat to the third-highest position in the State Department. Republican senators have demanded answers from multiple Biden nominees for China-friendly comments or business deals in the authoritarian country.
Many people are concerned with Biden’s connections to the Communist Country including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) who said “Any nominee who has spoken in favor of Confucius Institutes is extremely concerning, we cannot have individuals who are either naïve to—or even sympathize with—the threat that Beijing poses in top national security positions.”
In another press conference from 2011, Nuland said that she welcomed the “rise of a prosperous, successful China. We don’t see China’s rise as a threat, nor do we seek to contain China’s rise.”
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