CIA Report Highlights Chinese Influence Operations on Campus
The CIA issued a warning regarding Chinese government influence operations on US college campuses. An unclassified page of the CIA's classified report highlights Confucius Institutes similar to the one operating on The University of Montana (UM) campus. In fact, the professor who helped bring that program to the UM campus has recently issued warnings of his own. (To be clear, the below Free Beacon report does not name UM)
First, here is the story via The Washington Free Beacon: CIA Warns of Extensive Chinese Operation to Infiltrate American Institutions; Intel report: Beijing provides 'strings-attached funding' to 'coerce' self-censorship
In an unclassified page of the report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the CIA cautions against efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to stipulate funding to universities and policy institutes in exchange for academic censorship.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month the bureau is investigating dozens of Confucius Institutes, the Chinese-backed language and cultural centers hosted by more than 100 universities across the country. Despite their broad entrenchment in American academics over the past decade, little is known about the nature of the contracts between Beijing and the host universities—funding amounts and contractual terms are largely kept secret.
ForeignPolicy.com also has this: China's Long Arm Reaches into American Campuses (h/t The Drudge Report)
But what might trigger registration as a foreign agent is if a Chinese government-funded group attempted to change the behavior of U.S. government officials or to sway American public opinion at large, he says.
In at least one case, the Chinese government, through a local CSSA, appeared to do just that. In late 2017, the Wayne State University CSSA in Michigan was involved in an ethics investigation into the local city council after the CSSA offered four scholarships to the Ypsilanti mayor and three other local officials to fund travel to China. After the trip took place, it was discovered that the Chinese Consulate had provided the money to persuade Ypsilanti city officials to support a $300 million Chinese-funded development project. The Wayne State CSSA did not respond to a request for comment.
FLASHBACK via KGVO: UM Prof Criticizes UM Confucius Center
History Professor Steven Levine is a specialist in East Asian affairs at the University of Montana. Fluent In Chinese, Levine was partly responsible for bringing the Confucius Institute to the state, a decision he now says was a “mistake” that has opened the door to Beijing soft power.
"When I was at the Mansfield Center as Associate Director, I was partly responsible for bringing the Confucius Institute to the University of Montana, and, frankly, now I regret it because the Confucius institute, which is not particularly active actually at UM, is in fact an instrument of Chinese soft power."