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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China's Propaganda Offensive At A College Near You

August 7, 2010

Tibet Truth
August 3, 2010

Strange how China exerts such a peculiar hold
over the thinking  of political, educational and
media establishments world wide, of course
commercial factors are hugely dominant and
influential for nations entranced by China’s
economic allure. However that does not fully
explain the degree of accommodation and tolerance
extended by the west towards China, an attitude
which perhaps has its roots in Orientalism.
Admittedly there is much within China’s culture
to admire, yet the stench of its blood-soaked
tyranny, the censorship, oppression and violent
occupation of Tibet and East Turkestan is an ever
present distraction that shadows a full
appreciation of its diverse and rich traditions.
Anyone possessed of integrity and normal
intelligence would surely find it challenging not
to measure say the enlightened ancient wisdom of
the Daoist master Lao Tze against the brutal
denial of civil, religious and civil freedoms
which have paralyzed China since 1949.

Of course there  those argue that such
distinctions can be balanced and Chinese cultural
riches celebrated and enjoyed, despite the more
odious realities that dominate life in China and
occupied territories such as Tibet. That position
does of course raise ethical concerns in that
such a view either chooses to ignore or relegate
the suffering and oppression resulting from
China’s regime, by elevating cultural
appreciation above human rights and freedom.
Through some mental conjuration the executions,
forced sterilizations, torture and slave labour
camps are shunted off into some dark sidings of
indifference, so that full attention may be
directed at whatever facet of Chinese culture is
being valued or experienced.  It is no accident
that as part of its unsleeping propaganda efforts
communist China, aware of this willingness to be
dazzled by the finery of Chinese culture, engages
in a carefully orchestrated  public relations
strategy that draws upon western fascination with
the more aesthetic elements of Chinese society.

An insidious and  prominent example of this
propagandizing is firmly embedded across a swathe
of universities, schools, colleges and other
educational establishments courtesy of a
controversial project known as the Confucius
Institute. A body whose headquarters are in
Beijing, not surprising given it is an official
arm of the communist Chinese Government‘s, Office
of Chinese Language Council International. This
public institution has as it central aim the
promotion of Chinese language and culture and
operates worldwide, however unlike similar
cultural based organizations such as Germany’s
Goethe Institute or France’s Alliance Française,
the Confucius Institute operates as an important
part of totalitarian regime, with a key mission
to promote a more positive image of China abroad.
As such it has attracted considerable concern,
having extended its somewhat cancerous tentacles
across educational establishments around the
world, it has been charged with promoting Chinese
government views. “Jocelyn Chey, a visiting
professor at Sydney and former diplomat, regards
the Confucius Institutes as a propaganda vehicle
for the Chinese communist party, and negatively influencing academic staff”.

While governments too have expressed unease at
the nature and degree of negative influence,
including Sweden which was alarmed the
organization was simply a vehicle for Chinese
government information. The security services too
of a number of countries have been monitoring the
Confucius Institute with some alarm, most
publicly Canada’s CSIS. A former Asia Bureau
Chief of the CSIS noted: “I think there’s a
concern from an intelligence point of view,
definitely,” said Michel Juneau-Katsuya. “These
Confucius organizations have not come out of
philanthropic ideals, they are part of a
strategy. And they are funded and run by
organizations that are linked to Chinese
intelligence services.”. India too has expressed
serious concern and refused to permit any such
offices to be established on Indian territory
fearful that they were simply a smokescreen for
Chinese propaganda  Even Communist China’s head
of propaganda, Mr Li Changchun has reportedly
boasted that the Confucius Institutes are “an
important part of China’s overseas propaganda
set-up” (Economist October 22, 2009).

Despite such knowledge these institutes of
disinformation have been welcomed in a number of
countries, most notably perhaps within the United
States and England where some prestigious
academic institutions have established working
associations with the Confucius Institute.   No
doubt there is some political influences at work
here, in that governments may tolerate and
encourage their educational establishment to
engage with the Confucius Institute as part of a
general appeasement of China to maintain positive
relations. There is also among the educational
establishment no doubt an innocent appreciation
of Chinese culture which sees such programs as a
positive project to promote, such thinking is
cognisant of China’s dark record of oppression
and violence but is insufficiently concerned not
to be a willing partner in promoting the values
of Chinese culture. However, those Universities
that collaborate with the Confucius Institute
expose themselves to a number of troubling forces
and compromises, as noted by Canadian Nobel
Laureate nominee and human rights lawyer, David
Matas, who cautions that China’s government
officials pressurize universities to censor those
who may express a critical or dissenting voice
against China. He is concerned that institutions
associated with Confucius Institutes are
particularly exposed to such influence.  “In some
places where we’ve gone, we’ve had last-minute
cancellations at universities where they have
Confucius Institutes … with no plausible explanation,”.

Those whose critical faculties have been
bewitched by China’s culture seem oblivious of
such restrictions and censorship, and indifferent
to the corrosive influence they bring. As noted
by Juneau-Katsuya, the former CSIS agent,
communist China’s espionage activities overseas
exploit citizens of the target country,
individuals once described by Lenin as “useful
idiots.”. These people, in Katusya’s words, “…are
so in love with China and so taken with Chinese
culture, and so hungry to make friends, that
they’re ready to do almost anything. And they
will close their eyes to so many different
things,”. Would those who rationalize away the
atrocities and suppression have held a similar
attitude to the cultural refinements of other
draconian regimes, would they have oozed
admiration for Germany’s high art and language
while the Gestapo were surrounding the Jewish
Ghetto in Warsaw, or attended classes in
Cambodian sponsored by Pol Pot’s Khymer Rouge?
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