During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, the Chinese Communist regime almost completely destroyed the traditional culture of ancient China. However, given its need to achieve legitimacy in the West in order to penetrate and spread its communist ideals, during the last few years it has invoked its traditional culture to present a false image loaded with values and ancient wisdom, but behind that mask lies the ambition, corruption, violence and blood that bathes the communist apparatus. 

The Chinese regime has unearthed Confucius from the same grave it spat on and outraged during the Cultural Revolution in the ’60s and ’70s and established so-called Confucius Institutes in practically every country in the world to spread “Chinese culture”. But the true objective of these institutes is different.

According to critics, the Confucius Institutes function as a real Trojan horse which implements part of the regime’s foreign policy. Their programs show martial arts techniques, performances, exhibitions featuring traditional costumes and classical legends, talk about the “five thousand years of Chinese culture”, quote Confucius, teach the simplified Chinese language and provide scholarships to learn all this in China.

However, the essential fundamentals of ancient Chinese culture, which Confucius transmitted in his original teachings, such as the spiritual tradition of discipline, reverence for the divine and fundamental values are absent, since they contradict the atheistic, immoral and revolutionary doctrine of communism.

Who Confucius really was

Confucius, known in China as Kong Zi or Kong Fu Zi, was a Chinese philosopher and educator who lived between 551 and 479 BC. His teachings founded what we know today as Confucianism and he is generally considered one of the models that forged the Chinese tradition.

Confucius was born and lived during the last period of the Zhou dynasty in territories that are now part of China. At that time, a strong selfish trait developed among individuals that drove the constant satisfaction of personal interests. As a result, relations between states were intensely competitive and many wars broke out.

In that complex context, Confucius taught that the value of benevolence should be the basis of moral behavior, while pointing out that the Dao (the Divine Way) is the ultimate goal of the human being, which should be founded on virtue and always guided by morality.

Confucius also promoted values associated with concepts such as mercy, kindness, love, humanity and charity. He expresses the idea of adopting a noble way of behaving in relationships with others, seeking from there to improve both social morality and to develop individual spirituality and bring the human being to his divine side.

After his 30th birthday, Confucius began to distribute his teachings to the people and later served in various minor public positions, where he did not fail to implement and spread his beliefs associated with the spiritual and human moral life.

From his public offices he advocated his principle of benevolence for the government, but the authorities did not accept his political philosophy. Confucius had no choice but to resign. He went into exile and traveled from state to state throughout the Chinese empire to spread his teachings and his belief in applying benevolence as a basic principle.

He then turned to education and became the first teacher in Chinese history to provide private education to the public, based on the concept of “teaching according to natural aptitude.” Until that time, ordinary people had no opportunity to obtain education, as it was a privilege reserved for royalty and nobility.

He taught the classical traditions and the so-called “six arts,” but emphasized morality as the most important subject. He taught that the “true gentleman” is a person of good education and moral character who values self-improvement.

Confucius emphasized in his teachings the divinity of the Dao and the blessedness of having the opportunity to be able to hear, recognize and understand the Dao, so much so that one could even die the same night without remorse. 

So much so that in a chapter of the best known Confucian text, the “Analects“, Confucius declared: “Having heard the Dao in the morning, one can die at night”.

Confucius’ guiding principles for human interactions became, over the years, one of China’s most cherished legacies, greatly influencing the people and culture for 2500 years, until the arrival of communism to power which, with its anti-traditionalist and atheistic rhetoric, almost completely destroyed a legacy of thousands of years of history. However, it currently uses Confucianism to its own advantage, imposing a biased interpretation loaded with subjectivities.

The CCP has destroyed China’s traditional values

In the millenary culture of the Chinese people, the divine nourished all aspects of a society extremely rich in scientific, medical, architectural and philosophical knowledge. China’s three traditional religious schools, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, laid the foundation for a culture of refinement and moral cultivation. Traditional Chinese faith balanced not only the relationships between people, but also guided the interaction between mankind and the gods.

But with the advent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the 20th century, this cultural and Divine heritage was relentlessly attacked. 

Since its founding more than a century ago, the CCP has opposed the traditional Chinese worldview, seeking to replace thousands of years of traditional culture with its own revolutionary ideology.

At the heart of communist culture are atheism and materialism, both of which are driven from its theoretical basis, the class struggle philosophy of Marxism. These basic characteristics imply that communism cannot tolerate the existence of a traditional culture or faith. 

Communist ideology actively rejects faith in God or heaven describing it as “spiritual opium”. It bases its understanding of humanity and the world on absolute materialism. Communists analyze human history as a result of expressions of class struggle governed by the principles of power, and not by moral truth, precisely contradicting the basic precepts of Confucianism.

After taking power in 1949, the Party implemented a series of violent campaigns aimed directly at eliminating China’s ancient cultural foundations at their roots.

In this way the CCP replaced ancient Chinese moral teachings and veneration of the divine with a secular cult driven by mass terror and political struggle. They belittled faith in the gods as “feudal superstition,” and in its replacement imposed the idea of the Party as divine, compelling the masses to worship and obey it as “the savior of the people.” 

In May 1966, the dictator of the Chinese regime, Mao Zedong, launched what he called the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”. For 10 years he turned the entire Chinese territory into political and social chaos, and through terror he reasserted the control of the CCP.

During the Cultural Revolution the economy was paralyzed, millions of lives were ruined and China was pushed into the greatest bloodshed, hunger and stagnation in its history. But the goal of breaking with its traditional past was achieved and the CCP did not rest until it imposed the idea that it was something positive for society. As The Guardian recalls, this is how its authorities described the process:

“Like the red sun rising in the east, the unprecedented Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is illuminating the earth with its bright rays.”

During that infamous decade schools and universities were closed, churches, shrines, libraries, stores and private homes were looted and destroyed with the aim of eliminating “feudal” traditions.

And so it was that China in 10 years censored all traditions based on belief in God and teachings that promoted righteousness and moral values that characterized its history of more than 5,000 years, including the teachings of Confucius.

Confucius Institutes, the Trojan horse of the CCP

The typical contradictions of communism led some decades after the Cultural Revolution, at the beginning of the 21st century, to resume and promote the image of Confucius, although now through a biased and atheistic interpretation of his teachings, and with questionable objectives that are precisely opposed to the principles he promulgated.

The initiative of the so-called Confucius Institutes began in 2004, public partnerships between Chinese educational institutions and schools and universities in the rest of the world. The questioned institutes are financed by the Chinese communist regime and, according to their critics, function as a propaganda arm of the CCP.

As an argument for their penetration into the West they use the alleged interest in spreading the Mandarin language and traditional Chinese culture, but according to the accusations, behind the scenes they seek to impose a system of propaganda of communist ideals, censoring the truth and imposing a distorted account of reality and social conflicts.

As published in a report by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security committee’s subcommittee on investigations, they are funded and largely run by Hanban, a non-profit organization that claims to be non-governmental but is directly controlled by the CCP.

Confucius institutes and classrooms, started mainly in universities with a global education program. Over the years, they have also been introduced in primary and secondary schools around the world, which has heightened the alarm of certain sectors of society, mainly conservatives, who are particularly concerned about preserving traditions and confronting indoctrinating colonialism and the imposition of atheistic and progressive ideas. 

The State Department recently estimated that there were about 500 Confucius classrooms operating in the United States alone.

A report released in 2019 by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence is blunt: “China’s intelligence services will exploit the openness of American society, especially academia and the scientific community…,” Fox News reported.  

Chinese penetration of the West

The conservative arc, and even some progressive sectors in the West as well, agree that the Confucius Institutes are not the innocent cultural centers offering Chinese language instruction that they appear to be. Rather, they are a key ploy in China’s “soft war” against the West, primarily the United States, and are programmed to teach political lessons that unquestionably favor the Chinese Communist regime.

In this way the Chinese regime achieves a double entry into the West. On the one hand, through its “hard power”, it presents a strong and aggressive image through its accumulation of arms and technology, which brings with it the suppression of freedom of expression in Hong Kong and mainland China, and its colonization of the South China Sea among other territories. These policies leave an image of a powerful country but also become strong arguments for international criticism and condemnation that hinder its access to the West.

For this reason, in parallel, they implement their “soft power” in initiatives such as the Confucius Institutes, through which they try to transmit to the world an idyllic portrait of the communist regime by distorting historical accounts, making people believe, for example, that Mao Zedong is a revolutionary hero and that the Tiananmen Square massacre never happened. 

Like any authoritarian ideology, it tries to impose itself on young people and children through a disguised indoctrination, taking advantage of their innocence. And this is how they have chosen universities and schools to penetrate society more easily, betting that the next generations of Western leaders will have a distorted vision in favor of the communist regime.

As reported by the Heritage Foundation, Confucius Institutes have rapidly become a global phenomenon, with a total of more than nine million students enrolled in 525 institutes in 146 countries and regions. More than 100 of these institutes are located in the United States, including at prestigious universities such as Columbia and Stanford.

In parallel in the United States are the so-called Confucius classrooms, which are involved in approximately 500 elementary and secondary schools in the country. 

Complaints against Confucius Institutes

During the last few years, several countries, associations and politicians have denounced the malicious actions of the Chinese regime through its Confucius Institutes and consequently their governments have ordered the closure of dozens of these centers, arguing that they are mobilized by a marketing machine of the communist ideology.

Ani News, a news agency in India, where Confucius Institutes have penetrated with great success, cites a report by the French Ministry of Defense, detailing the CCP’s “vicious behavior” over the past few years to expand its global influence by infiltrating Chinese communities abroad, the media, diplomacy, economics, politics, intellectuals and of course education in general.

The National Association of American Scholars (NAS) has repeatedly raised concerns about the penetration of communist ideology into American education.

According to the Association, Confucius Institutes compromise academic freedom, defy Western standards of transparency, and are inappropriate on college campuses. NAS continues to call on all universities to close their Confucius Institutes.

In the same vein, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a 92-page 2019 report criticizing Confucius Institutes as “part of China’s broader, long-term strategy” to develop “soft power” that “encourages complacency” in the face of China’s increasingly illiberal and aggressive policies. In their report they cite a comprehensive NAS investigation in which they allege particular cases of abuse by these institutes.

Both reports present substantial evidence against the Confucius Institutes, including a review of tens of thousands of pages of internal documents, interviews with university and institute officials, and analysis of the financial contributions the Chinese government made to U.S. universities in exchange for including the controversial institutes in their facilities.

Confucius Institutes do not respect academic freedom 

According to many of the reports, most of the agreements signed between local institutions and Chinese universities ignore the academic freedom that applies in most Western countries.

Such is the case of Professor Sonia Zhao, a Chinese citizen exiled in Canada, who after being persecuted by the CCP in China for practicing the millenary discipline Falun Gong went into exile in Canada where she intended to teach Mandarin Chinese, according to the Canadian media National Post.

Sonia Zhao eventually went to work at a Beijing-run Confucius Institute after signing a contract stating that Falun Gong practitioners could not perform the work. She decided to keep her beliefs secret, hoping that once she arrived in Canada she would find more freedom. 

Far from it, when she entered the institute within Ontario’s McMaster University, she was trained to divert students’ attention when touching on “taboo” subjects such as the Tiananmen massacre, Tibet, freedom of speech in China, and so many others.

Later, Chinese staff at the prestigious Canadian university made it clear to her that they considered Falun Gong to be “poison”. After a year, Sonia Zhao resigned and became perhaps the world’s first whistleblower for Confucius Institutes.

Finally, after the denunciations, McMaster University ended up closing the Confucius Institute and severing, at least publicly, its relations with the Chinese communist regime. At the same time, other institutions followed in the same footsteps before receiving complaints or sanctions. 

Falun Gong or Falun Dafa is an ancient discipline of the Buddha school, based on the precepts of Truth, Benevolence and Tolerance. In 1999, the CCP launched a brutal persecution campaign targeting the 100 million people who practiced the discipline, as well as their families, friends and acquaintances.

As a result of the persecution, book burnings, arrests, mass imprisonment, torture, forced re-education systems, and a perverse business based on the illegal harvesting of organs from living people, mainly Falun Gong practitioners known to be in generally good health, were unleashed throughout China.

U.S. orders Confucius Institutes to register as a “foreign mission”

In August 2020 the U.S. State Department, then led by former Secretary Mike Pompeo, designated the Confucius Institutes of the United States (CIUS) under the title of “Chinese foreign mission.”

Through a statement Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced, “For more than four decades, Beijing has enjoyed free and open access to U.S. society, while denying that same access to Americans and other foreigners in China.”

“Furthermore, the PRC has taken advantage of America’s openness to undertake large scale and well-funded propaganda efforts and influence operations in this country,” the statement added.

To accompany the measure, former President Donald Trump, signed a proposal to “establish a requirement that schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program disclose agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms.”

With these measures the Trump administration aimed to monitor the activity of U.S. educational institutions with Confucius Institutes, used by the CCP to spread propaganda.

On his Twitter account Pompeo posted at the time:

“Today the @StateDept designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission of the PRC, recognizing it for what it is: an entity controlled by the PRC that advances Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, under the measure, study centers must declare about staff and contract terms, allowing U.S. officials to have greater clarity about their operations.

The State Department argued that the measure is intended to put pressure on U.S. teachers and school officials to seriously consider whether or not the programs should be allowed to continue.

However, on January 16, 2021, then newly inaugurated President Joe Biden rescinded his predecessor’s initiative without explanation to the press.

Trump’s reversal of the proposal, allows the CCP to continue to indoctrinate American students and present a positive image of its regime, even as behind closed doors it persecutes, tortures and kills its own citizens.

But although the measure was short-lived, it has evidently had a certain effect because the number of educational institutions that decide to cancel their contracts with the Confucius Institutes continues to increase, arguing precisely their lack of transparency.

Moreover, since the proposals of the Trump era, many politicians and organizations both in the United States and other parts of the world are promoting similar legislation that continues to warn about the Chinese communist regime’s attempt to penetrate and transform Western culture to its own advantage.

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