Jun 07, 2012|
Confusion has been aroused as the US government clamped down on the Confucius Institutes across America last week, when they threatened to deport several Chinese professors. In the midst of suspicions that this could be a new move in an orchestrated global anti-China campaign, the Obama administration claimed that the Chinese academics had breached American visa requirements—perhaps by indoctrinating American children with Confucian values, with a curriculum ranging from elementary Chinese calligraphy, basic wok-cooking, screenings of film-clips of Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” with a Putonghua session of “Ning Hao” by a grinning Chinese teacher?
The beard-plucking act against Confucius is considered blasphemous against Beijing in the eyes of some American liberals and many Chinese, but Barrack Obama has good reasons to go on the offensive. Beijing has never allowed, nor will it ever approve of, the opening of a few hundred Jesus Institutes or George Washington Colleges on the campus of Chinese universities, preaching biblical stories and the American constitution to Chinese kids. There will be a limit of tolerance for America if no reciprocal enlightenment program is granted. The Americans are particularly protective of their own children. Their government could probably tolerate tennis-shoe-clad obese adults being hypnotized by a few tourist snaps of Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall into believing that since the eunuch Cheng Ho had discovered America, the sovereignty of the United States should be reverted to China one day.
But the American Education Department or even the FBI is unlikely to allow an American 5-year-old to come home from a weekend class at the Confucius Institute one day to refute their shocked mother in the kitchen: “No. I do think the Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of Satan, Deng Xiaoping is greater than Christ, and not a single person was ever killed on Tiananmen Square on June 4 1989, which is a big CNN lie. That’s what Miss Zhang told me repeatedly. Oh yes, Miss Zhang is from Beijing and all the boys and girls in the class love her because she’s as nice as an angel.”
Not only is Confucius being seen as a mind-twisting child-molester, China has also been trumpeting loudly about the increasing number of Confucius Institutes opened in America and Europe, calling it a milestone of China’s propaganda war against the West. Each Confucius Institute inaugurated on a western university campus has been hailed by the Chinese press with a euphoria equivalent to as if one more city had fallen into PLA hands. This might have, unfortunately, rung an alarm bell to western governments, reminding them of Europe in 1939 and 1940. Beijing should rethink their psychological warfare strategy. Without a bit of the philosophy of Sun Tzu, Confucius could be too vulnerable a fifth-column, who needs some subtlety, massaging, and definitely more disguise, otherwise the academies will be raided more often than gambling dens and underground garment factories in New York Chinatown, which will go against every teaching of the ancient Sage.
Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.