Confucius to Their Enemies: China’s Investment in Public Diplomacy

Helle Dale /

Anyone who doubts the value of money spent on competition in the world of ideas – a key aspect of public diplomacy – needs to take a look at what the Chinese are doing in this field. Aspiring to promote their own model of governance, in opposition to that of the United States and the West, the Chinese are investing heavily in making friends overseas. Indeed, there is a real danger of the United States being out-done, for reasons of limited resources and a lack of strategy. The Chinese have both in spades.

According to The Washington Times, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to account for the fact that China has been able to open 60 cultural centers – so-called Confucius Centers – hosted at universities across the country, such as the University of Minnesota. The centers endow chairs in Chinese language and culture studies and partner with existing university programs, creating hubs for Chinese cultural and political influence. China has established Confucius Centers in many Asian countries, making a Chinese presence felt in a way the United States simply does not. They also allow China convenient covers for “minders” of Chinese exchange student populations in the United States and elsewhere. (more…)