The Chinese government-backed China-United States Exchange Foundation has waged a campaign to shape American K-12 schools, including attempts to “influence” textbooks along with funding organizations setting curricula in American schools.
The China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) is founded by the Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which has been identified by the U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission as the “highest-ranking entity overseeing” China’s United Front.
The effort, according to the government report, aims “to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party” and push Westerners to “take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies.”
The National Pulse has highlighted the organization’s efforts to garner “favorable coverage” from Western media outlets and former Congressional representatives and can now reveal a similar approach taken by CUSEF regarding American schools. While CUSEF has made overtures to schools at the university level, many have divested from CUSEF in light of its compromising ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
We can today reveal that American schools at the K-12 level are also not immune from CUSEF’s advances.
A 2011 Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filing with the Department of Justice reveals CUSEF’s American lobbyist – BLJ Worldwide – working on behalf of the Chinese government-linked organization to influence American textbooks.
Concerning Tibet, which has been occupied by repressive Chinese Communist Party forces for over 70 years, CUSEF sought to counter this by “introducing” a “strong, factual counter-narrative to defend and promote the actions of China within the Tibet Autonomous Region.”
“By creating a factual account of the Chinese impact on Tibet and producing a report that eliminates the emotion from the situation, we believe we will have a strong platform from which to address critics of China,” the report continued.
To do so, BLJ promised to liaise with “editors and publishers” of American textbooks:
“BLJ had conducted the first stage of a textbook analysis, and will proceed with contacting editors and publishers once the CUSEF sponsored study is published and there is material with which to approach the relevant parties.”
Other aspects of the campaign included:
- Initiate a short-medium term US campaign to influence key constituencies (politicians, academics & experts) as well as general public opinion regarding China’s true efforts and intentions in Tibet
- Change the debate about Tibet in the US to one that reduces the purely emotional arguments and promote accurate, factual evidence
- Develop and promote a positive and cohesive narrative description of China’s engagement and history with Tibet, noting the many educational, infrastructure, and other investments in the region
- Begin implementing a long-term strategy for better informing the next generation of US thought leaders about China-Tibet
Since 2008, CUSEF has partnered with Primary Source, an American organization helping to provide K-12 schools with “resource materials to targeted curriculum consultation.”
“The Foundation also supported two study trips for American K-12 teachers organized by the Primary Source, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts. In 2008 and 2009, two groups of K-12 teachers from the New England area in the United States traveled to China for a two-week tour,” a CUSEF brochure noted.
CUSEF also highlighted the multi-year exchange in its 2011 brochure:
“The Foundation also continued its work with Primary Source, a US-based non-profit organization that brings American K-12 educators to China and engages them with Chinese culture. By engaging educators and youth, the Foundation is fostering a relationship with people and ideas into the future.”
Separately, CUSEF has also “sponsored” trips for Los Angeles-based American high school students “to visit Beijing and Shanghai and acquainted them with Chinese culture.”