CCP doubles down on influence in K-12 education following US crackdown on Confucius Institutes

Though the majority of CCP-sponsored Confucius Institutes in the United States have closed down, many K-12 Confucius Classrooms remain.

The Committee on Education and the Workforce recently held a hearing discussing the placement of CCP-run programs placed near US military bases.

The Committee on Education and the Workforce recently held a hearing to discuss the ongoing influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in American education through K-12 programs called Confucius Classrooms. 

Florida Representative Aaron Bean delivered the opening statement at the Sept. 19 hearing, stating “Over 500 K-12 schools across the United States have allowed the CCP to establish itself in their halls under the guise of Confucius Classrooms.”

He continued, “The risk posed by the proliferation of Confucius Classrooms is threefold, threatening America’s national, geopolitical, and academic interests.” Rep. Bean also cited a report which found that the CCP had ties to school districts near 20 different military bases including Fort Knox in Kentucky, Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. 

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“These ties raise serious concerns about the safety and security of military children and secrets. The CCP’s presence near our bases can be seen as a direct attempt to target and influence these vulnerable populations, potentially compromising our national security in the process,” he continued. 

Following Rep. Bean, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters added stated that after discovering that a school in one of his districts—Tulsa Public Schools—was named in the report, his staff conducted a deeper investigation and found a “disturbing” connection between the district and the CCP. 

“Through a series of non-profits, that school district maintains an active connection with the CCP through a program called Confucius Classrooms,” Walters stated.

Chairwoman of the committee Representative Dr. Virginia Foxx told Campus Reform on Sept. 22 that “The methods by which the CCP is attempting to influence American education are always evolving, and we must be prepared to continue combating these efforts at every turn.”

She also stated that “The CCP’s goal is to make the United States less secure, cause chaos with propaganda, and influence American citizens. Make no mistake, every action the CCP takes is calculated with this goal in mind. The Committee will continue to pressure the administration to take action.”

This hearing comes slightly more than a year later following a report published by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) in June of 2022 that detailed how CCP influence in education would continue after the rapid closure of Chinese-sponsored and university-focused “Confucius Institutes.” 

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Several strategies to keep Chinese influence in American influence outlined by the NAS’ report include American universities’ eagerness to replace Confucius Institutes with similar programs, the survival of K-12 Confucius Classrooms, and the endurance of Confucius Institute textbooks on campuses that have since closed the programs. 

Campus Reform previously reported that Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong warned the US Congress about the potentially detrimental impacts the foreign intervention in K-12 and higher education could have. 

Additionally, in late July of this year, the Committee noted serious concerns about the relationship between two institutions: University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute in China.

Campus Reform contacted Rep. Aaron Bean, the NAS, Michael Chong, and UC Berkeley for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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