In a rare show of solidarity, College Republicans and College Democrats have joined together to reduce the influence of China’s Communist Party on American campuses.
The opposing national political groups have joined a project led by the newly formed Athenai Institute to push colleges to close their Confucius Institutes, among other things. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has determined the institutes to be centers for pro-Communist propaganda in America.
According to the group’s mission statement, Confucius Institutes are “proprietary outlets of soft power that promote self-censorship, arbitrarily censor discussion of issues ‘sensitive’ to the Chinese Communist Party, utilize discriminatory hiring practices, and propagate blatant disinformation.”
The Republicans and Democrats are joined in the Institute by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, the Tibet Action Institute, Students for a Free Tibet, the Federation of Vietnamese American Communities, and the Campaign for Uyghurs, and Keep Taiwan Free, among others.
“The Chinese Communist Party tries at every turn to silence citizens, environmentalists, labor advocates, feminists, LGBTQ activists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and countless others,” the group’s mission statement, which it calls the “Washington Appeal,” reads.
“It has expelled journalists for challenging its version of the truth, it has manipulated the world’s multilateral institutions in times of crisis, it has compromised our entertainment, news, and business communities, and it is committing crimes against humanity against Tibetans and Uyghurs,” the statement reads.
According to the National Association of Scholars, there are currently 86 Confucius Institutes operating on campuses across America, with six set to close over the summer of 2020. Earlier in the year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called Confucius Institutes “fronts for Chinese propaganda.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s actions pose an immense threat to academic freedom and to human dignity,” reads the Athenai statement. “It is imperative that we distinguish this totalitarian regime from the Chinese people, whom we must steadfastly defend from abhorrent acts of xenophobia, racism, and hatred,” says the group.
“We must act to give voice to the long-oppressed, be they Chinese, Hong Konger, Mongolian, Taiwanese, Tibetan or Uyghur,” writes the group. “We must condemn in the most unequivocal terms any and all anti-Asian sentiment wherever and whenever it arises.”
The group demands:
● The immediate and permanent closure of all Confucius Institutes in the United States.
● The revocation of any organizational and/or club status afforded to the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, barring the prohibition of all instructions from consulates or embassies with regard to political advocacy or protest, and the banning of all funding from all proxies and agencies of the Chinese state or the Chinese Communist Party without explicit university approval.
● The full and public disclosure of all ties, both financial and academic, between centers of higher learning and all Chinese state agencies and proxies.
● The creation of policies and mechanisms which allow students and faculty to report violations of their rights and general encroachments upon academic freedom, and to annually consider additional measures to protect the rights of students and faculty.
Read the group’s full statement here.