U.S. requires Confucius Institute center to register as foreign mission

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WASHINGTON — The United States said on Thursday it was requiring the center that manages the Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes in the United States to register as a foreign mission, the latest sign of the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement, labeled the Confucius Institute U.S. Center “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”

David Stilwell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, told a briefing the dozens of Confucius Institutes in the United States would not be kicked out, but said U.S. universities should take a “hard look” at what they were doing on campus.

Academic exchanges needed to take place without government intrusion, Stilwell said.

Last year, the U.S. State and Education Departments promised stricter monitoring of the institutes, which have been criticized in Congress and elsewhere as de facto propaganda arms of China’s Communist government.

In June, the State Department announced it would start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, calling them mouthpieces for Beijing.