A New York Times report on April 14 cited FBI Director Christopher Wray at a US Senate hearing last year as saying that China presented “a whole-of-society threat on their end” that required a “whole-of-society response.”
The bureau has since mounted a counterintelligence operation to bar Chinese academics from the US if they are suspected of having ties with Chinese intelligence agencies, the paper said.
China’s Confucius Institutes, which since 2004 have been springing up like mushrooms in higher-education institutions around the world, are ships sailing under false colors, disseminating Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda.
To date, there are 108 of these institutes operating within US universities. However, a number of schools have announced that they plan to terminate cooperation with the institutes.
In April 2017, the New York-based National Association of Scholars published an investigative report entitled: Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education.
It said that the CCP has used the institutes to spread its ideology overseas and is interfering in the academic independence of US academic institutions.
The report recommended that all US universities close their Confucius Institutes.
In September 2017, the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun reported that the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification of China had made donations of several million Australian dollars to two of the nation’s largest political parties.
The Australian government took immediate action, instituting a law that prohibits political donations from foreign governments and their overseas proxies.
On Feb. 7, the Australian Department of Home Affairs revoked the residency permit of Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo (黃向墨) and rejected his application for citizenship.
Yet, to attract Chinese students, more than half of Taiwanese universities and colleges have signed pledges guaranteeing that classes would not mention “one China, one Taiwan,” Taiwanese independence or related topics.
They have also provided a platform for Chinese academic Li Yi (李毅), who has advocated the use of force to unify Taiwan and China. Li has been able to travel to Taiwan multiple times over the past year on a tourist visa.
However, earlier this month, on discovering that Li was making speeches during his trips to Taiwan, the National Immigration Agency revoked his visa and ordered his deportation.
Some local media outlets criticized the move for “limiting cross-strait academic exchanges” and said it had “destroyed Taiwan’s reputation for freedom of expression.”
They seem to believe that preserving academic freedom and academic exchanges requires the nation to jettison issues of sovereignty and welcome with open arms Chinese academics to indoctrinate Taiwanese students.
According to this warped logic, since the US is clamping down on Confucius Institutes, then the US possesses far less academic freedom than in Taiwan. This is clearly nonsense.
China’s China Central Television brazenly bangs the drum for specific candidates to run in Taiwan’s presidential election next year, yet Taiwanese legislators do not seem ready to take a leaf out of Australia’s book and enact tougher media laws.
Despite being geographically much closer to China than either the US or Australia and having been subjected to threats and intimidation for decades, Taiwan is still far too complacent about the existential danger posed by Chinese infiltration.
Chang Kuo-tsai is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors and former professor at National Tsing Hua University.
Translated by Edward Jones
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