In a bipartisan effort rarely seen, the college student organizations of Democratic and Republican parties are joining forces against the Chinese communist regime’s “long-term campaign” to exert influence on American campuses.
“The Chinese government’s flagrant attempts to coerce and control discourse at universities in the United States and around the world pose an existential threat to academic freedom as we know it,” read a joint statement (pdf) from the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America, representing about 350,000 students in over 45 states.
The two student political organizations urged colleges and universities to take “immediate actions” to counter “authoritarian interference” from Beijing, citing a list of known and ongoing activities aimed to expand Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) reach and power. They specifically called out Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes, which are still in operation in some 70 schools across the United States.
“The Chinese Communist Party has established programs at universities, especially Confucius Institutes, which are proprietary outlets of soft power that promote self-censorship, arbitrarily censor discussion of issues ‘sensitive’ to the Chinese Communist Party, utilize discriminatory hiring practices, and propagate blatant disinformation,” the groups said in the statement, recommending “immediate and permanent” closure of all Confucius Institutes in the nation.
The college student organizations noted in a joint letter that the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) is manipulated by the Chinese regime to advance the CCP’s own interests at the expense of students’ individual rights. The organizations cited a 2017 incident, when the CSSA at the University of Maryland played a leading role in bullying Chinese student Yang Shuping, who in her graduation address, praised “the fresh air of free speech” that she found absent in China but enjoyed in the United States.
Calling the CSSA an “illegitimately coerced” organization, they demanded the revocation of any organizational or club status afforded to the CSSA. They also called on higher education institutions to completely disclose any financial and academic ties with any Chinese “state agencies and proxies,” and create systems that would allow students to report violations and other “general encroachments upon academic freedom.”
While warning against CCP infiltration, the college student organizations also condemned “anti-Asian sentiment, violence, and hateful acts.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s actions pose an immense threat to academic freedom and to human dignity,” the joint letter read. “It is imperative that we distinguish this totalitarian regime from the Chinese people, whom we must steadfastly defend from abhorrent acts of xenophobia, racism, and hatred.”