China is Using Campus Groups to Silence Anti-CCP Discourse at American Universities

It’s already well-known among the Right that universities in the U.S. are hubs for politically correct discourse.

However, external actors such as China have begun to take notice and exploit the woke mania to spread their influence.

Greg Piper of the College Fix noted that campus chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association “are using the language of emotional trauma and collective responsibility to silence criticism of Beijing’s policy decisions.”

Indeed, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association sounds innocuous. But for those unaware, it is presided over by the Chinese Communist Party. It’s part of China’s broader campaign to use soft power and project its influence across the globe.

Piper cited several examples of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association’s moves to shut down speech critical of Beijing. One of the first cases of this strategy occured in 2017, when Chinese students made an attempt to block the Dalai Lama from giving a speech.

2019 was a big year for the student group.  It was able to get Columbia University to scrap a discussion on China’s human rights violations and joined racially motivated protests against graffiti that allegedly had anti-black and anti-Asian graffiti at Syracuse University.

The CSSA has been met with pushback abroad. Piper showed how in Canada student bodies had enough of Beijing’s subversive plots to clamp down on university discourse:

Their alleged activities went too far for a Canadian student government, however, which actually derecognized its CSSA chapter last year for reportedly coordinating with Beijing to protest and harass a Uyghur activist.

At the moment, Indiana University-Bloomington’s CSSA finds itself in a dispute about Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Back in November, the IU Bloomington student government held a virtual event with famous Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong. In addition, the student government expressed its solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters after it declared that it “stand[s] with the people of Hong Kong and other pro-democracy movements throughout the world.”

Wong has already been imprisoned before. Namely, for his involvement during the Umbrella Revolution of 2014. He could potentially face five years of prison time for demonstrating against a law that banned the use of face masks. The law was enacted in order to make it easier for the government to spy on political activists.

“It is why I cherish every moment to share this message with you,” he said during the virtual event. Wong also mentioned how he was “banned” from participating in Hong Kong elections in 2020. Wong understands the bigger picture about free speech after the NBA decided to muzzle any expressions of solidarity with Hong Kong protesters in 2019.

“Free speech is not only about Hong Kong; it’s about how the global community should react,” he declared.

According to a Campus Reform report, the CSSA was angry about the student government’s support of Wong. Funny enough, CSSA used language typical of overly senstivie campus leftists:

The CSSA referred to the event as a ‘national disruption activity that violated Chinese Students [sic].’ They stated that the ‘IU Student Government is making Chinese students feel uncomfortable and have been offenses [sic].’ The group continued, stating that the decision ‘is harmful to Chinese students’ rights’ and that the IU Student Government should be ‘responsible for their decision.’ The CSSA further claimed that the student government’s actions were ‘disrespectful for [sic] all students in IU’ and violated ‘the relationship between Chinese people.’

Emerging great powers such as China will likely exploit social tension in America and use it as a way to deflect from many of its controversial authoritarian policies. China is clearly studying some of the Left’s behavior and using it in a way that promotes China’s image abroad during a time when people are becoming more hostile towards its government.

China will not fight the U.S. conventionally. They will use soft power to outmaneuver the U.S. and market itself as the emerging superpower. China has transitioned from being a Maoist basket case to a revisionist power with intentions of challenging the U.S.

One way that the U.S. can derail China is by heavily restricting migration from there (along with other countries) and shutting down all institutions present at universities that have ties to the Chinese government. China should not be using American universities as launch pads for its propaganda efforts.