Newly obtained documents reveal disturbing details of Chinese influence on campus
Jezzamine Wolk, Campus Reform
- For years, Campus Reform has reported on Chinese-funded centers operating across the U.S.
- Exclusive new documents obtained by Campus Reform now show what experts have long been warning.
Campus Reform exclusively obtained the 2016 renewal agreement between the State University of New York and the Confucius Institute Headquarters of China through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The “documents regarding the Confucius Institute for Business at the State University of New York reveals an inside look into the influence of China on SUNY.
The document, written in both Chinese and English, states that the goal of the agreement is to “strengthen educational cooperation between China and the United States, support and promote the development of Chinese language education, and increase mutual understanding among people in China and in the United States.”
According to the document, the institute serves to teach the Chinese language; provide training on Chinese business, trade, and finance; and provide consultative services concerning China’s education, culture, and other services.
Under the activities section, there is an “other” section that is unspecified but allowed “with authorization and by appointment of the headquarters.”
Gordon Chang, author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and frequent Chinese Communist Party critic, told Campus Reform that the contract appears to favor China.
“I think these Confucius Institute contracts give substantial power to the Chinese side because educational institutions want Beijing’s money for language instruction but more important they want a continual flow of Chinese students, who generally pay full tuition,” he said.
“Chinese tuition money has become a substantial source of revenue for many colleges and universities,” he added.
For years, Campus Reform has reported on these Chinese-funded centers operating across the U.S. The institutes are marketed as Chinese cultural centers, but many experts and officials have warned that they are “propaganda” centers of the communist regime.
“Confucius institutes are not cultural centers,” the Heritage Foundation’s Senior Fellow at Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy and author of The Plot to Change AmericaMike Gonzalez told Campus Reform.
“The Confucius Institutes are meant to curb and limit what Americans learn about the realities of China,” he said.
According to the National Association of Scholars, as of January 2021, there were 63 Confucius Institutes across the country, one of which is located at the State University of New York, the largest comprehensive university system in the country.
The original five-year agreement was signed in 2010 and was resigned by Chief Executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters Xu Lin and System Administration RF Operations Manager Patrick Ryan of the Research Foundation for SUNY in 2016.
Per this agreement, the Confucius Institute Headquarters of China is obligated to send Chinese instructors “based on the requirements of teaching and pay for their air fares and salaries” while SUNY is obligated to “assist Chinese instructors on visa applications, residence procedures and entry into the United States.”
The Confucius Institute Headquarters of China are also required to provide teaching materials and a set amount of annual funds “according to needs,” while the SUNY side is simply required to provide facilities and compensate necessary administrative personnel.
“We need to know what students who are taught with public money are going to learn about China,” said Gonzales, slamming SUNY for this use of taxpayer money.
“China is an adversary, and what is emerging as a big power rivalry in the globe, and we need to be very aware of who they are,” continued Gonzales. “They try to pass themselves off as just another country, like France or Peru or the Netherlands, but they are not. They are a dictatorship.”
Campus Reform also obtained the 2016 renewal of the supplementary agreement between the Office of Global Affairs at SUNY and Nanjing University of Finance and Economics (NUFE) on the Renewal of Confucius Institute for Business. It lays the structure of the board of directors, describing that the Chairperson will be from Party A (NUFE, legally established and registered in China), while the Deputy Chairperson will be from Party B (an entity within SUNY).
The responsibilities of the board of directors include formulating and developing strategies, guidelines, and financial plans. The document also states that the Institute shall be a “non-profit educational institution, which should under overall supervision and guidance of the Confucius Institute Headquarters of China.”
“I am unaware of any American university that has surrendered its responsibility for the management of a foreign cooperative venture to a foreign state, especially one with whom relations are as strained as between the US and the PRC,” Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Seapower at Hudson Institute, Seth Cropsey, told Campus Reform.
Campus Reform reached out to SUNY for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JezzamineWolk