China Infiltrates American Institutions from Within

An “American Thought Leaders” interview with Rachelle Peterson

Leah Thomas

Some American colleges and universities have assisted China in its attempt to infiltrate the West from the inside. China has targeted our universities using several approaches—among them are Confucius Institutes (CIs) and the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP). These programs, funded by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), quash academic freedom and challenge the integrity of our institutions. Fortunately, Americans are starting to wake up to this reality, but the extent of this corruption is still unknown.

In this interview with American Thought Leaders, Rachelle Peterson explains these threats and the National Association of Scholars’ plans to fight them.

Confucius Institutes teach Chinese history and culture from a pro-CCP perspective. Its curriculum avoids discussing any of the Chinese government’s myriad flaws. At the program’s peak, China had more than 100 CIs in American colleges and universities. Today, 75 remain open and four of those have announced plans to close by the end of the year. Peterson says our growing national awareness has made this possible. With warnings by public officials from the FBI, the State Department, and congress, as well as legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act’s defunding of schools that receive money from both the Department of Defense and the Chinese Government, and a series of bills concerning the issue, it is clear Americans are now aware of the danger and plan to do away with it.

Meanwhile, the Thousand Talents Plan has corrupted the transparency of American scholarship. Members are forced to give China early access to their research findings in exchange for funding, a prestigious job title, or access to research labs. Though being a TTP member is not illegal, dozens of members have already been charged with fraud or failure to disclose their membership status. The National Association of Scholars is currently tracking the public cases in the US.

Peterson warns that progress in tracking and shutting down Chinese subversion in American institutions does not necessarily mean the infiltration will end. We are still in the process of waking up. China has been known to rebrand to continue pushing its agenda. Peterson says we should be prepared to discover more areas of China’s improper involvement before we can regain the integrity of our universities.

View the full interview.


Rachelle Peterson is Director of Policy at the National Association of Scholars.

Photo by Kayla Kozlowski on Unsplash

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