Calls to close CCP-funded Confucius Institutes grow louder. Here's what's fueling them.
A nonprofit is working to remove the Chinese government’s presence from academia.
The national chairmen of the College Democrats and the College Republicans joined in signing the statement.
A student-led, bipartisan nonprofit group is hitting the gas on its efforts to remove the Chinese government’s presence from American academia.
The Athenai Institute, a nonprofit “dedicated to limiting the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on U.S. college campuses," advocates for “free discussion of human rights abuses on campuses by pushing student governments and university administrations to close Confucius Institutes, disclose ties to authoritarian governments, and establish mechanisms and policies to prevent the Chinese regime and other authoritarian governments from encroaching on academic discourse.”
Following the State Department’s formal determination that the Chinese government committed genocide by oppressing Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, the Athenai Institute released a statement calling for the removal of Confucius Institutes from American universities.
“We urge policymakers and university administrators to counteract the toxic impact of the Chinese government’s influence at Chinese universities,’ said the statement. “Confucius Institutes — defined by the American Association of University professors as an ‘arm of the Chinese state’ — have been tied to efforts to intimidate students, cancel on-campus events critical of the Chinese government, and exert control over university curricula.”
We welcome today's @StateDept finding of genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.
Policymakers and university administrators must sever ties to Confucius Institutes and other proxies of the Chinese state. pic.twitter.com/fDwVtHgj3n
— Athenai Institute (@athenaiinst) January 19, 2021
“Now is the time for decisive action to protect academic freedom and empower students to stand in solidarity in face of ongoing acts of genocide,” continued the letter. “Confucius Institutes, and all outlets of the Chinese government’s propaganda, must close.”
The statement enjoyed a wide range of support.
Among the signatories for the "Washington Appeal," which calls for the closing of Confucius Institutes, are groups such as Students for a Free Tibet, the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association, and the Muslim Student Association at the University of California-Davis.
John Metz and Chandler Thornton, the national chairmen of the College Democrats of America and the College Republicans National Committee, respectively, joined together in signing the statement.
Campus Reform has reported extensively on the influence that Confucius Institutes exert upon American universities. Recently, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the organizations as “foreign missions.”
Campus Reform reached out to the Athenai Institute for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft