The State Department on Thursday designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS) as a Chinese foreign mission, the latest move in the Trump administration’s crackdown on Beijing’s influence in the U.S.
“For more than four decades, Beijing has enjoyed free and open access to U.S. society, while denying that same access to Americans and other foreigners in China,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “Furthermore, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] has taken advantage of America’s openness to undertake large scale and well-funded propaganda efforts and influence operations in this country.”
The statement described the CIUS, which is funded by the Chinese government, as “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms” and one that is part of its communist party apparatus.
The State Department says the goal is to ensure American teachers and administrators can make choices about whether the programs should be allowed to continue and for students to be able to have access to Chinese resources “free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the move requires the center to declare its personnel and property, which will give U.S. officials insight into the operations. The institutes have been accused of spreading Beijing’s views on issues such as Tibet and the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The designation marks the latest move by the U.S. to push back against Chinese influence in the U.S. President Trump has signed an executive order banning the app TikTok next month because of fears the Chinese owner of the app may give data to the Chinese government.
Last month the U.S. ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close down, contending it was a hub of spy activity by the Chinese Communist Party.
The U.S. alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.