Campus Reform | NY Times column: 'Stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes.’ Chinese state media: ‘good article.’

NY Times column: 'Stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes.’ Chinese state media: ‘good article.’

A New York Times columnist wrote that federal officials should “stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes,” which were designated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “foreign missions.”

An editor for a Chinese state media source agreed with the columnist’s take, declaring that it was a “good article.”

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A New York Times columnist wrote that the U.S. government should “stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes.” An editor for a Chinese state media source agreed.

Ian Johnson — a contributor for The New York Times — wrote an op-ed stating that President Joe Biden should ease up on the  “tough talk” on China. 

Johnson argued that the United States should restart the Peace Corps and Fulbright scholarship programs in China. He also said that federal officials should “stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes as sinister propaganda machines.”

“These are largely cultural centers and much like educational outposts from other countries trying to push a good image of themselves,” explained Johnson. “American universities should prevent Confucius Institutes from offering accredited courses — no university should allow a foreign government to set its curriculum — but the centers should be able to function off campus, much like Germany’s Goethe Institutes or British Councils do.”

[RELATED: Biden chalks up China's Uyghur genocide to different cultural 'norms.' Can he be trusted to keep CCP off college campuses?]

Chen Weihua — EU Bureau Chief for China Daily, a state-affiliated media source — agreed with Johnson’s op-ed.

“Good article,” tweeted Chen. “Biden admin reversed many Trump policies such as on WHO, Paris accord and immigration, there is no excuse to ignore the no-brainers such as restoring bilateral exchanges, Confucius Institute, press visa, ending Trump’s tariff, tech wars. Why playing lose lose game?”

Campus Reform has reported on officials’ concerns over the propagandistic intentions of the Confucius Institute — an entity that masquerades on university campuses as a cultural exchange, yet seeks to cast a favorable view of the Chinese Communist Party’s goals.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accordingly designated the Confucius Institute as a “foreign mission” in the final months of the Trump administration.

[RELATED: US designates Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes as 'foreign missions']

"Confucius Institutes are funded by the PRC and part of the Chinese Communist Party’s global influence and propaganda apparatus,” said Pompeo in August.

Johnson, however, told Campus Reform that he agrees with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Confucius Institutes are "dedicated to spreading CCP propaganda," despite writing in his New York Times op-ed that the U.S. Government should “stop vilifying China’s Confucius Institutes as sinister propaganda machines.”

"I agree with former Secretary of State Pompeo's characterization of CIs as foreign missions dedicated to spreading CCP propaganda. That is why I said in my op-ed that they should not offer accredited courses on campus," Johnson said. Some US (and other countries') universities lazily used them as turn-key operations--we can't afford a Chinese-language program but presto these nice people from China are offering us classes for free! That was completely wrong and a travesty."

Johnson also said that it's "standard practice" for Chinese media to take articles in western media and use them for their own good.

"I'm not sure who agreed with my article, but it's standard practice for Chinese media (and they're all state media) to take articles in the western press out of context, translate them selectively, and then use them for their own purposes," Johnson said. "There's even a newspaper called Cankao Xiaoxi, or Reference News, that is made up almost exclusive of these kinds of articles."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft