US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing.
The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.
The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by a foreign government. That would subject them to administrative requirements similar to those for embassies and consulates.
The State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, took similar action toward several Chinese media outlets earlier this year.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
The institutes have long been a target of China hawks, with US lawmakers such as Senator Marco Rubio, urging schools in his state to end their agreements with them.
He called them “Chinese government-run programs that use the teaching of Chinese language and culture as a tool to expand the political influence” of the government.
The move is likely to further stoke tensions with Beijing as the two countries clash over everything from the governance of Hong Kong to 5G technology.
This week, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in more than 40 years, while US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo used a speech in Prague to blast the Chinese Communist Party’s “campaigns of coercion and control.”
Initially welcomed by colleges that might otherwise have struggled to fund Chinese language programs, the institutes generally steer clear of history, politics and current affairs.
Still, critics say they are vehicles for Chinese influence on campuses, providing the government in Beijing leverage to censor teaching materials and academic events by threatening to withdraw funding for the institutes.
Of some 550 Confucius Institutes around the world, 80 are based at US colleges, including Stanford University and Savannah State University in Georgia, according to the National Association of Scholars, a nonpartisan research group that has studied them.
The association opposes the institutes because it says their funding lacks transparency and topics sensitive to China’s government are off limits.
Unlike Germany’s Goethe Institutes or France’s Alliance Francaise, China’s Confucius Institutes are not independently run and have also become controversial in countries such as Canada, Australia, and the UK.
A 2013 Canadian Security Intelligence Service report described the institute as a Trojan Horse to spy on Canadian intelligence.
Canberra last year boosted scrutiny of universities’ compliance with new foreign influence laws, after revelations about Beijing’s authority over Confucius Institutes on campuses, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age reported.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on Tuesday last week in a mass drive that has been hailed by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” Bhutan grabbed headlines in April when its government said it had inoculated about the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose
African nations should build capacity to produce vaccines on the continent and work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the raw materials needed to produce the inoculations are available, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. While a waiver on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that is being discussed at the WTO is seen as a way to improve the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s least inoculated continent, Okonjo-Iweala said that only a handful of African countries have the capacity to produce the life-saving drugs. “There [are] a handful of countries — maybe Tunisia, Morocco to some extent,
MISINFORMATION: The digital giant said there were ‘numerous’ offending videos that were removed from the channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after contravening its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that denied the existence of COVID-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the UK’s Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’ regular column amid controversy about his COVID-19 commentary, which included calling the New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from, but said there
Dozens of Afghan soldiers fled across the border into northwestern Pakistan after their border post was overrun, apparently by the Taliban, the Pakistani army said on Monday. The statement said 46 members of the Afghan forces, including five officers, slipped across the border late on Sunday near the Pakistani border town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Afghan soldiers “have been provided food, shelter and necessary medical care as per established military norms,” the Pakistani army said, adding that it had informed Afghan authorities of the development. The Afghan government on Monday denied its troops crossed into Pakistan. “This issue is