CIUS Center Official Response to State Department

The Great Disconnect

Today the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, Inc. (CIUS) received a letter from the U.S. Department of State designating CIUS as a foreign mission under United States law.

We are grateful to be part of the conversation and to finally have this opportunity to state the facts about the educational programs known as Confucius Institutes.

We are more than happy to respond to the State Department’s information requests. Much of the same has been voluntarily offered by us to the State Department or other agencies in past attempts to be transparent which we remain committed. However, we disagree with the State Department’s designation and hope to clear up this fundamental misunderstanding. The State Department’s letter correctly acknowledged that CIUS is not a diplomatic organization and that its employees are not government officials or representatives. The Secretary’s press release, however, criticized CIUS as advancing a “malign influence campaign” as part of a global campaign of propaganda.

The press release indicates a disconnect within the Department of State as to the truth. It shows a lack of familiarity with the work our office actually does. We are not a headquarters for American Confucius Institutes. We are an office in Washington, D.C. devoted to global education services and intercultural opportunities for American communities. We promote the simple ideal of Americans learning the Chinese language which is shared by many educators and students across the nation. Our office, which is not connected to a college campus and is in no way involved in any Confucius Institute curriculum, employment, or funding, is being targeted symbolically. CIUS has no influence, let alone “malign” influence, over how universities run and manage their own Confucius Institute language programs.

We hope the State Department will visit those schools and see for themselves just as members of the Government Accountability Office already have. We look forward to sitting down with the Secretary to help him understand what is really happening which may help stop the many myths that are still being circulated about CIUS and Confucius Institutes. And we will renew our offer to help the State Department coordinate the processing and monitoring of the Chinese language teachers’ visas in the United States.  We also will renew our offer to help the State Department coordinate the educational efforts to fulfill the Americans’ demand of Chinese language education in the proper way.

We know there are a lot of pressing issues between our two countries – Confucius Institutes are not one of them and we are working hard to keep it that way.