Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.
CounterCurrent: Week of 9/13
The National Association of Scholars has long researched the efforts of foreign governments to infiltrate American higher education and exert soft power from within. These include the undisclosed funding sent to colleges and universities by governments hostile to the United States and the secret money funneled to individual researchers through China’s “talent-recruitment programs.” But they also include out-in-the-open, “legal” entities such as the Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institutes (CIs).
NAS’s research on CIs has been particularly fruitful. Since the release of our 2017 report Outsourced to China, written by NAS Senior Fellow Rachelle Peterson, over fifty Confucius Institutes have closed nationwide. Additionally, several legislators and organizations have proposed anti-CI legislation, including the ATHENAI Act and the CONFUCIUS Act.
But China’s efforts have by no means been limited to postsecondary education. There exist over 500 “Confucius Classrooms” in the United States, which are essentially the K-12 equivalent of Confucius Institutes. And most recently, NAS has learned of the deep-seated, longstanding ties between the College Board—the organization responsible for the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) exams—and the Hanban, the Chinese Communist Party education agency.
In NAS’s latest report, Corrupting the College Board: Confucius Institutes and K-12 Education, Rachelle Peterson continues her celebrated work on Chinese influence on American education through an in-depth examination of this dangerous partnership.
Peterson details how the College Board, an organization ostensibly dedicated to the betterment of American students and thereby America as a whole, has partnered with the Chinese Communist Party in many facets of its operations, including the development of the AP Chinese Language and Culture course and exam; the furtherance of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in American schools; the establishment of the “Chinese Bridge Delegation Program”; and the organization of the National Chinese Language Conference.
Indeed, College Board CEO David Coleman has said, “Hanban is just like the sun. It lights the path to develop Chinese teaching in the U.S. The College Board is the moon. I am so honored to reflect the light that we’ve gotten from Hanban.” If by “lighting the path” Coleman means denying that the Tiananmen Square Massacre actually happened and treating Tibet and Taiwan as undisputed Chinese territory, then he’s right on the money.
China’s pervasive efforts to undermine and influence American higher education must be exposed and brought to an end immediately. The NAS calls on the College Board to cut all ties with the Chinese Communist Party and to develop a new Chinese language and culture class that does not bend the knee to CCP propaganda and intimidation. Indeed, Peterson writes:
These measures may seem radical to some. If so, that is because the Hanban succeeded. China managed to build out an entire educational system before the public caught on to what was happening. It co-opted a prestigious, respected name—the College Board—and thereby sidestepped criticism. It gained an access it could never have earned outright by working from within organizations that Americans knew and trusted.
The time to end Chinese influence in American education was yesterday. We still have a chance to do it today. But we mustn't wait until it’s too late—the clock is ticking.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.