China is waging a global propaganda war in an attempt to silence overseas critics at a time when it has unleashed the most repressive crackdown on internal dissent since the Tiananmen Square massacre
30 years ago. Its soldiers include Chinese state media reporters, diplomats and students studying overseas, recruited to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The most recent example has been the decision by the London School of Economics to adjust the depiction of Taiwan
on a sculpture after pressure from Chinese students. Its weapons include political infiltration and influence, a global media outfit, threats and aggression towards activists abroad, an attempt to hijack and derail the human rights agenda at the United Nations, and — as some are slowly realizing — deploying hundreds of innocuous-sounding language and culture institutions embedded in universities and schools. China’s Confucius Institutes, which on the surface appear to be simply an equivalent of the British Council, American Center, Alliance Francaise or Germany’s Goethe Institutes, are now present in at least 548 universities and 1,193 schools in 154 countries. With a US$314 million budget, 46,200 teachers and 1.7 million students, China aims to have 1,000 Confucius Institutes by 2020 in what it calls a “Confucius revolution.” South Korea opened the world’s first Confucius Institute in 2004, and it now has 23, the most in Asia. Thailand, second in the region, has 16 Confucius Institutes, while Japan has 15. Indonesia has seven and India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Malaysia have four, but Confucius Institutes also exist in Singapore, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Sign up to receive UCAN Daily Full Bulletin