On March 28, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), held a hearing on Communist China's propaganda efforts in the United States. The hearing focused on how Chinese government owned newspapers and TV channels have penetrated the American media and how Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes have been established on American college campuses.
"Two of the pillars of America's status as an open society are freedom of the press and academic freedom. Communist China, which does not believe in or allows the practice of either type of freedom, is exploiting the opportunities offered by America to penetrate both private media and public education to spread its state propaganda," Rohrabacher in his opening remarks.
Beijing has sought to control the discussion of China policy by basing access and financial grants on whether scholars are writing favorable or unfavorable reports about the Communist regime. One witness at the hearing, Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, was a victim of Chinese pressure on Stanford University after Mosher reported on China's infamous "one child policy" enforced by state-mandated abortions. The Chinese Communist Party demanded that Mosher not be given the Ph.D he was working on, and threatened to retaliate against other Stanford scholars and programs. Mosher was denied his degree.
"It appears as though Beijing is able to expand its campaign against academic freedom from China to America when U.S. universities value Chinese favors and money more than truth and integrity," said Rohrabacher.
The expansion of Confucius Institutes at American colleges, which include Chinese funding and "free" instructors in language, culture and history, gives Beijing even more leverage. Kai Chen, another hearing witness, fled China during the Cultural Revolution, and testified about the propaganda embedded in Confucius Institute materials used both in college and high school programs conducted in the United States. Beijing has also endowed chairs in "Sinology" and provided free travel for school officials to win their support.
"Would there have been the same welcoming attitude on campuses if during the 1930s the Hitler regime of Nazi Germany had set up Nietzsche Institutes in America to advance the study of German language and culture," asked Rohrabacher. "Sadly, there were those who were as eager to take Nazi money then as Communist money today."
Greg Autry, who teaches strategy at University of California-Irvine, testified about how China Daily, a government-owned newspaper, is able to insert a section on politics and business into the privately owned Washington Post under the guise of "advertisement." The section looks like part of the newspaper and there is no disclaimer that the material is propaganda put out by the foreign Communist regime. China Daily also sends free copies of its own paper to every Congressional office. Autry also talked about how Chinese state owned channels are beamed into every American household with a cable or satellite TV connection.
"The purpose of the hearing is to alert the public to what the Chinese Communist Party may be doing in their community," said Rohrabacher. "Since China is expanding its propaganda efforts backed by financial payoffs across America, the Communist regime must think its campaign is working. The aim of the dictatorship is to dampen any concern expressed in media or academic circles for China's increasingly aggressive actions which pose a threat to the U.S. economy and to national security. The Chinese Communist Party would like to influence American opinion; but if it just buys silence, it's a victory for the Communist regime."