On Friday morning, he and his entourage visited Walter Payton College Prep, a decade-old, high-achieving, selective-admission public high school that focuses on science, math, and languages and which has hosted a “Confucius Institute” since 2006. This is one of almost 300 centers like this now operating worldwide. All are affiliated with and financially supported by Hanban, the executive arm of the Chinese Language Council International, which in turn consists of representatives of a dozen government ministries, including foreign affairs, commerce and the “State Council Information Office” which is responsible for, among other things,internet censorship.
Hu announced that his government would bring twenty Payton students and teachers to China this summer, and of course the kids cheered. Who wouldn’t relish such a trip?
But it’s insane to think this is only about cultural understanding and international comity. That’s not how China works—though any number of American educators seem oblivious or uncaring about this topic. The Chinese regime is advancing its own interests in the West—including Walter Payton College Prep—by, in effect, bribing school systems, educators, and students to see the world through Chinese eyes and, of course, to turn blind eyes and deaf ears toward anyone who might raise concerns about the innumerable threats that Beijing poses to America’s future.
I’m not sure whether senior Chinese government officials have much of a sense of humor, but I’ll wager that they are at least smiling at the gullibility, pliability, and naïveté of Western educators—and how cheaply China can buy them off. They are, one might say, giving us the rope with which they will shackle and bend us to their will.