aAmong the odd aspects of Joe Biden’s presidency has been his administration’s divided thinking on issues of paramount importance to our national security.
Take China, for example, the biggest national security concern we face. Biden has now committed four times to defending Taiwan in the event of Chinese aggression on that island. In doing so, he brushed off decades of calculated US policy of strategic ambiguity on that sensitive issue.
Republican law attorneys are pushing for increased scrutiny of Chinese “sister cities” in the United States
However, his statements of great importance were toothless. The most ridiculous thing is that the Navy’s poor shipbuilding plans do not reflect any serious intention to defeat the Chinese Navy in defending Taiwan. Even members of the president’s party in Congress sounded the alarm.
Tough talk about China while acting weakly is Biden style. His cabinet members are reading the same scenario. In congressional testimony on Tuesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was asked about the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to influence American education. He drew a blank, responding, “I don’t have any information about specific efforts to try to impress [U.S. education]. ”
Almost every day brings a new story about Beijing’s efforts to influence, intimidate or spy on Americans. Just a day before Cardona’s testimony, headlines were dominated by the FBI’s arrests of suspects operating an illegal Chinese “police station” in Manhattan. Christopher Wray, Biden’s FBI director, has repeatedly warned of the unprecedented scale of Chinese espionage and influence operations against the United States, including Chinese harassment on American universities of those who profess hostile views of Beijing.
Just a few months ago, Ray defended the FBI’s investigation of Chinese academics acting as spies on American universities. This problem is well known to anyone familiar with current antispyware matters. But not to the Minister of Education, it seems.
Unfortunately, Cardona was just getting started.
Next, he was asked about the Confucius Institutes, controversial outposts funded by the Chinese Communist Party that propagate pro-Beijing views. Again, most in government know this. Again, the Education Secretary said, “I don’t have information on Confucius Institutes right now, but I’m sure my team might be aware of that and look into that.”
This is a wonderful confession.
Over the past decade, the status of the Confucius Institutes has been discussed in many countries, with extensive, mostly negative, press coverage. More than a decade ago, Canada’s McMaster University (which, as an undergraduate, I would argue is not a right-wing outpost) threw the Confucius Institute off campus for discriminating against people opposed to Beijing. In 2020, Sweden (yes, Sweden) closed all Confucius Institutes over human rights concerns, including the Chinese Communist Party’s harassment of overseas dissidents.
Reversing this global trend, in the final months of the Trump administration, the State Department designated the Confucius Institutes in the United States as overseas missions, which led to the closure of nearly all of the institute’s American outposts (although some remain open with a little over 100,000 sq.
). The top line: This has long been a major issue in educational circles, and has sparked debates about foreign influence and freedom of speech.
Somehow, however, Cardona hadn’t heard of it.
There is no excuse for his ignorance.
In March 2021, for example, the US Senate unanimously passed the so-called “Confucius Act,” which denounced the Confucius Institute as an anti-free speech arm of the Chinese Communist Party and blocked federal funding for US colleges and universities that host the Confucius Institute. Cardona was already serving as Secretary of Education when the Senate passed the bill. How did he miss the note?
The top line: Cardona is either hopelessly uninformed or willfully dishonest regarding the well-documented Sino-Communist efforts to influence American education. Like the administration he belongs to, Cardona needs to get better information, and then determine whether China is our friend or foe.
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The work of John R. Schindler with the NSA as a senior intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer.