China’s Propaganda Extends Into Elementary, Middle, and High Schools


China’s immediate goal is to “change the impression in the United States and around the world that China is an economic and security threat,” according to a 2019 Senate Report.

The Chinese government – a dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – wants to downplay atrocities like the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the ongoing battle for Tibetan independence.

China is working to achieve their goal using programs and recruitment plans in the fields of science and education that reach the very roots of American society and national security.

Harvard University Professor Charles Lieber was arrested in January and charged with lying about his connection to the Chinese government. Two Chinese nationals, both also working in sensitive research fields, were charged on the same day in separate cases stemming from visa fraud and the attempted smuggling of 21 vials of biological research to China.

Professor Charles Lieber, Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Lieber, who chaired the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, received over $15 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). The grants require disclosure of financial support from foreign governments and entities.

Coincidentally, Lieber joined the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) as a “Strategic Scientist” in 2011 and was participating in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from 2012-2017 according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) report released on January 28.

Lieber was living large during his time with WUT, which paid him $50,000 a month, plus nearly $158,000 for living expenses on top of $1.5 million to build a research facility at WUT.

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The Thousand Talents Plan describes its mission as the “aim to gather the global wisdom and create the China great exploit.”

The Plan is a recruitment program used by China to tempt the most talented scientific minds in the world to “bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information,” according to a DOJ press release.

There are over 100 CCP-funded Confucius Institutes operating in the United States.

Confucius Institutes offer Chinese teachers to teach Chinese language classes to student and non-student communities at higher learning campuses worldwide. The Institutes hold “cultural events”, dances, and other CCP-approved entertainment meant to show the softer side of the totalitarian state.

Colleges and universities are not the only educational institutions facing Chinese propaganda.

Over 500 elementary, middle, and high schools in the United States participate with the Confucius Institutes to bring “Confucius Classrooms” to a younger audience.

Children with a ‘Confucius Institute’ banner (Flickr/CC)

Confucius Classrooms and Confucius Institutes rely on CCP-funding that restricts academic freedom. Anything that casts a disparaging or even questioning light on China’s communist government is not allowed, per Rob Portman’s Senate Report.

China’s foothold in American education and scientific research provides a springboard for programs like the Thousand Talents Plan and other espionage efforts.

Both of the foreign nationals, who were charged at the same time as Lieber, were working in sensitive scientific research fields at prominent facilities in Boston when their alleged crimes were committed. The charges against them range from visa fraud to acting as a foreign to conspiracy and involve trade and research secrets.

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In China’s hands, America’s secrets are used to make cheap consumer goods, military equipment, and medical technologies which are then sold back to the U.S. for a large payoff that is more than just money.

The loss of intellectual property and other sensitive information is a threat to America’s sovereignty, economic status, and national security.

“Without action to close the gap, ‘foreigners’ will eventually own so much of America that there will be nothing left to trade,” Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro said in regard to the global supply chain in 2017.

President Trump’s administration has been working to rebuild America’s manufacturing in an effort to reclaim the global supply chain since his election. Manufacturers now have more incentives to return or stay in the United States thanks to regulatory, tax and policy reforms enacted by the administration.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to mitigate any likely interruptions to the supply chain for vital medical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak. The FDA is monitoring the supply of drugs, ingredients and medical devices in conjunction with manufacturers.

As many media outlets furiously question the President’s motives in calling the novel coronavirus a “Chinese virus,” the most recent calamities as far as global health is concerned proves that Trump’s problem with China is America’s problem with China.

Dianna Berry

Dianna Berry is a 2020 National Pulse Writing Fellow

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