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China Daily Global / 2020-10 / 19 / Page011

Attack on Confucius Institutes attempt to poison the well for future relations

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-19 00:00

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the US administration is "asking every school to shut down their Confucius Institute by the end of the year", calling the institutes "propaganda organizations" underwritten by the Communist Party of China.

Like similar organizations of other countries, the Confucius Institute is a cultural institute that is dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding.

But as part of its strategy to contain China, the US administration has put the organization in its cross hairs-the number of Confucius Institutes in the US has already dwindled from more than 100 to about 60 over the past two years since the organization fell into the administration's anti-China orbit.

But it should not be forgotten, it was at the invitation of the US side that the Confucius Institutes were founded, and it was the rising demand to learn Chinese language and the Chinese culture from authentic sources that prompted US universities and schools to take the initiative. They contacted the Confucius Institutes Headquarters in Beijing to persuade it to consider founding Confucius Institute in their sites.

The extent to which the US administration is trying to fabricate a China threat has become absurd. Losing confidence in the long-established cultural dominance of the US, it tries to claim that the shadow of a trail of tea leaves in a teacup is a snake.

With fear and suspicion of China long instilled in US society, it is easy for the US administration to peddle its China threat theories as some are only too willing to buy such snake oil.

Yet despite this, Sino-US trade surged 2 percent in the first three quarters of this year, which is particularly notable given the heavy blow the pandemic has dealt to world trade. And it has shown just how far Washington's China policy has become detached from the reality of ties between the world's two largest economies.

By trying to uproot all Confucius Institutes from US soil and suppress Chinese companies, the administration has also revealed how, for its own narrow ends, a radical faction in the US has hijacked normal people-to-people and economic exchanges, which have long been the ballast for relations between the two countries.

By trying to create the impression that anything in the US that is Chinese has a malign influence, the administration is doing a great disservice to not only bilateral relations, but also the US and its people.

In seeking to escape their own cause for fear, this faction tries to give others reason to be afraid by convincing them there is substance to a threat that is entirely of its own imagining.


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