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Senate Passed Bill to Tighten Control over Confucius Institutes

On Thursday March 4, the Senate approved by unanimous consent a bill that would increase oversight of Confucius Institutes, China-funded cultural centers that operate on university campuses.

The bill will cut federal funding to a university or college unless its Confucius Institute on campus complies with stipulated provisions, including academic freedom, prohibition of the application of any foreign law, and granting full managerial authority of the Confucius Institute to the university.

The bill, introduced by Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, will next be sent to the House for consideration. Original cosponsors include Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Rogers Marshall (R-KS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

On August 13, 2020, the Department of State under the Trump administration designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS), which serves as the Washington D.C.-based de facto headquarters of the Confucius Institute network, as a foreign mission of the People’s Republic of China.

In October, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos jointly sent letters to the chief state school officers to warn that K-12 classrooms and universities nationwide are being targeted by the Chinese Communist Party’s influence operations, including the presence of Confucius Institutes on campus. “It may come as a surprise to many educators that hundreds of U.S. schools make use of a curriculum developed by an authoritarian government and taught by teachers who are vetted, supplied, and paid by that same government, in partnership with American schools and school districts. A review by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs found that approval from an institution affiliated with the PRC’s Ministry of Education is generally required when filling teaching positions associated with Confucius Classrooms.”

The American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, released a report in 2014 that recommended colleges take a deeper look at curricula and agendas brought forth in the classroom.

“Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom,” the statement said, also highlighting a lack of transparency. “Most agreements establishing Confucius Institutes feature nondisclosure clauses and unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China. Specifically, North American universities permit Confucius Institutes to advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”


Pew: Vast Majority of Americans Consider China a Competitor or an Enemy

On Thursday March 4, the Pew Research Center released a new study that shows that roughly nine-in-ten U.S. adults (89 percent) view China as a “competitor” or an “enemy” rather than a “partner.” At the same time, most Americans support a firmer approach toward China, from prioritizing human rights issues to adopting a tougher economic and trade policy and restricting Chinese students.

The survey of 2,596 U.S. adults was conducted from February 1 through 7, 2021. Of those surveyed, 53 percent of Americans have confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China. A smaller number say they have confidence in him to handle any of the other foreign policy issues.

American’s trust toward Chinese President Xi Jinping has continued to backslide. Roughly eight-in-ten (82 percent) say they have little or no confidence in the Chinese leader.

Cold feelings toward China

A majority of Americans have negative feelings toward China, up substantially since 2018. Respondents indicated their feelings using a “feeling thermometer.” A rating of zero degrees means they feel as cold and negative as possible and a rating of 100 degrees means they feel as warm and positive as possible. A rating of 50 degrees means they don’t feel particularly positive or negative toward China. Based on this, 67 percent of Americans today feel “cold” toward China (a rating of 0 to 49). This is up 21 percentage points from the 46 percent who said the same in 2018.

Nearly half (47 percent) of Americans feel “very cold” toward China – rating it below 25 on the same 100-point scale. This is around twice as many as those who said the same thing in 2018 (23 percent). Similarly, the share of Americans who give China the lowest possible rating of zero has nearly tripled, from 9 percent in 2018 to around a quarter (24 percent) in 2021. Only 7 percent of Americans have “warm” feelings (51-75 percent) toward China and even fewer (4 percent) say they have “very warm” evaluations of the country (76-100).

Human rights a priority

Fully 90 percent of adults in the U.S. say the Chinese government does not respect the personal freedoms of its people. This perspective is shared among large majorities of Americans across age, education and political groups.

Americans also want more focus to be placed on human rights – even at the expense of economic ties – in bilateral relations with China. When asked whether the U.S. should prioritize economic relations with China or promote human rights in China, 70 percent of Americans chose human rights.

Human rights in China is also the only issue with little partisan division. About seven-in-ten Democrats and Republicans say the U.S. should promote human rights in China, even if it harms economic relations between the two countries.

Tougher stance on China economic policies

64 percent believe current economic relations between the U.S. and China are bad. 52 percent of Americans want the U.S. to get tougher with China rather than to focus on building a stronger relationship.

This opinion is particularly prevalent among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (72 percent of whom want the U.S. to get tougher on China), and especially among those who identify as conservative Republicans (81 percent of whom say the same). About six-in-ten Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents would rather focus on building stronger ties with China, a feeling that is largely consistent among liberal and more moderate or conservative Democrats.

Limits on Chinese Students

While the U.S. public generally welcomes international students, people are more divided when it comes specifically to Chinese students. A majority of Americans (55 percent) support limiting Chinese students studying in the U.S., including about one-in-five Americans who strongly support this idea. On the other hand, 43 percent oppose limitations on Chinese students, with 18 percent strongly opposing them.

Partisan divide

Is China an enemy of the United States? This is one of the most divisive issues in terms of partisanship.

A majority of Americans describe China as a competitor (55 percent) rather than as an enemy (34 percent) or a partner (9 percent). Partisans differ substantially in their evaluations of the U.S.-China relationship. Whereas 53 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party describe China as an enemy, only 20 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say the same. Nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans say China is an enemy (64 percent), while only 37 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans say the same.

While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to describe China as a partner, they are also more likely to describe it as a competitor, with nearly two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic leaners (65 percent) describing the relationship in this way.

When it comes to whether limiting China’s power and influence is a top priority, there is a 27-point gap between Republicans and Democrats (63 percent) among Republicans vs. (36 percent) among Democrats). This is one of the largest partisan gaps.

Partisans are also worlds apart on confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China: 83 percent from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, compared with only 19 percent from Republicans and Republican leaners.

Source: Pew Research Center, March 4, 2021

US Official Warns of “Taste” of Chinese Domination

On Tuesday March 2, Navy Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, the director of intelligence for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told a virtual conference that, “We have a taste of what it means to be led by China or to have China deeply influence us.”

He said, “You’re going to find a very global, expeditionary Chinese military that will be there to step in anywhere they think China’s interests are jeopardized.” “Anywhere globally, when China feels like its development interests are threatened, what you’ll find is that they will end up sending out the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] more and more often.”

Although U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has repeatedly called China the “pacing threat” [which refers to a competitor making significant progress toward challenging U.S. defense strategy] for the Pentagon, and even U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to rally global support to push back against Beijing, Studeman, of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said U.S. officials believe China has established a clear pattern of how it will seek to assert its dominance based on developments with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“What you’ve seen is essentially the strangulation of freedom, the death of autonomy,” the top intelligence officer said.

“That’s occurred because of how the Chinese have crushed dissent through structural, legal security measures that have essentially clamped down,” he added. “That’s the China of today. That’s what you get.”

Studeman also described how China has steadily increased pressure on Taiwan, flying drones and what he described as special mission aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone on what has become a daily basis.

The goal, he said, was to stress the Taiwanese military and to “establish a new norm with their military presence around Taiwan.”

There are concerns that current efforts to push back, like recent, so-called freedom of navigation operations, are having little impact at the moment on Chinese decision-making.

The Pentagon on Monday convened its first meeting of the newly created China Task Force, charged with reviewing Washington’s current China strategy and making recommendations within the next four months.

Source: Voice of America, March 2, 2021

RFA Chinese: U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Passed Act against the Beijing Winter Olympics

Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported that the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee swiftly passed the American Values and Security in International Athletics Act, proposed by Michael McCaul, Republican senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Act includes a call for boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics, a condemnation of China and the Hong Kong government’s human rights violations, and a requirement for the Secretary of State to warn the participants in the international games held in communist countries or countries with human rights violation concerns 180 days ahead of the games. The Act intends to inform the American athletes of the games host country’s human rights, privacy and security risks. A similar bill passed unanimously in the previous term of the House, but did not survive the Senate. The House is expected to pass this new Act very quickly. The Beijing Winter Olympics is coming closer. Many U.S. lawmakers proposed bills and wrote to the White House calling for a boycott. Senator Rick Scott, who proposed a similar bill in the Senate asked the White House to discuss China’s human rights records and called the International Olympics Committee for a change of location of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Source: RFA Chinese, February 25, 2021

ByteDance Agrees to $92 Million Settlement over Privacy Charges

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois published a document on February 25 stating that TikTok’s parent company, Beijing based ByteDance, has agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the application’s U.S. users over a privacy infringement lawsuit and will make a US$92 million settlement payment.

In 2020, 21 separate class-action complaints were filed against the company on behalf of young users in states including California and Illinois.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The plaintiffs’ attorneys, who represented users as young as 8 years old, argued TikTok surreptitiously collected biometric data to sharpen the app’s targeted advertising and content recommendations” “The plaintiffs’ attorneys also alleged TikTok stores user data in China potentially exposing it to government surveillance.”

On Thursday, TikTok said, “While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”

In the United States, each state has its own regulations on privacy protection. According to the Biometric Privacy Law of Illinois, collecting user’s biometric data without consent may constitute a violation. Last year, Facebook also reached a $650 million settlement under the statute.

TikTok has more than 100 million users in the United States. TikTok’s Attorney estimate that the process for approving the settlement could take months.

According to Reuters, separately in Washington, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department are looking into allegations that TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children’s privacy.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 26, 2021
Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2021

U.S.-China Relations: CCP’s Advice to the Biden Administration (Chinese Media’s Editorial on the Biden-Xi Talk)

After Joe Biden called Xi Jinping on Chinese New Year’s Eve (February 11, 2021), and they spoke for 2 hours, several of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) primary media published commentaries discussing the CCP’s advice to the Biden administration.

1. Xinhua:

The talk showed three positive signals. The first positive signal was the Chinese New Year’s greeting to each other.

The second positive signal was the willingness to communicate. China and the United States should re-establish a number of dialogue mechanisms to understand each other’s policy intentions accurately and to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.

The third positive signal was the identification with the spirit of cooperation.

The Xinhua article also stated, “The Sino-U.S. relationship is at a critical juncture at this moment. The diplomacy by the head of state will have an irreplaceable guiding role (on this issue).”

2. People’s Daily:

(We) must point out, China wants to develop a cooperative relationship with the U.S. but this cooperation must be a cooperation based on principles. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang related issues are China’s internal affair. They are related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The U.S. should respect China’s core interests and act with caution.

How to deal with differences is a subject that both China and the U.S. must answer well. … China and the U.S. should re-establish all kinds of dialogue mechanisms to understand each other’s policy intentions accurately and to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.

3. Huanqiu (Global Times):

The U.S. briefing also said that Biden started with his New Year wishes to the Chinese people, which was widely seen as Biden’s gesture to show respect to President Xi Jinping and China. He seemed to use that goodwill to balance some tough messages the new U.S. administration has been sending to China and how the public opinion has been interpreting them lately.

Choosing the conversation time at the Chinese New Year’s Eve and starting with a Chinese New Year’s greeting between the two heads of state reaffirmed Biden’s basic attitude of wanting to compete with China with the bottom line of not to turn competition into conflicts.

The Sino-U.S. relation has become more and more complex. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced on February 10 that it would establish a China Working Group to coordinate each of the DOD’s components of China policy and actions. This is an unprecedented mechanism arrangement. It should impact the overall U.S. – China policy. There is a trend of more conflict between China and the U.S. Some U.S. elites have the attitude of “the tougher toward China the better,” but if that keeps developing, the U.S. will face inevitable strategic risk. Therefore, controlling Sino-U.S. differences is a key issue that the Biden administration has no choice but to discuss seriously with China.

1. Excerpt in Chinese:





Source: Xinhua, February 11, 2021

2. Excerpt in Chinese:




Source: People’s Daily, February 14, 2021

3. Excerpt in Chinese:




Source: Huanqiu, February 11, 2021


Miles Yu: The World Must Awaken to China’s Genocide and Bullying Behavior

Both Wang Yi, the State councilor of the People’s Republic of China and Cui Tiankai, China’s Ambassador to the U.S. have called on the Biden administration to respect China’s interests and its red lines. In speaking with Radio Free Asia and American Thought Leader, Miles Yu, former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that China has no red lines and it is just like what the Chinese are saying, “thief calling to catch a thief (賊喊捉賊).”

Yu said that Wang Yi’s remarks sound illogical. What China is facing is not simply that “the U.S. can’t stand China” but rather that “China can’t stand the world.” However, China has always been faulting the U.S for everything. It is irrational. China does not have red lines when it comes to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan. But it has set up red lines for the international community, which means that nobody is allowed to criticize China. Anyone who does so is not showing respect. He is crossing a red line. The Chinese red line is the Chinese Communist Party’s red line. It’s not a red line based upon international law or international conventions. In fact, this is a bullying behavior. The world needs to wake up to it and the U.S. shouldn’t acknowledge China’s red lines. The International community has long established that rule; it has been in effect since the 1940s. China has signed on to it, but China never follows it. China cannot kill people and commit genocide in the name of sovereignty. If China wants respect from others, it must first follow international law. China calls for “mutual respect” only to ask the international community to turn a blind eye to its violations of international law, which is unacceptable. Those tones are outdated. The U.S. government cannot walk back its China policy.

1. Central News Agency, February 23, 2021
2. American Thought Leader, February 2021

Huawei Smartphone Sales May Drop by 60 Percent in 2021

According to reports, Huawei expects that its smartphone shipments this year will drop by more than 60 percent to about 70 million units. Huawei’s smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020 fell by 40 percent. With the U.S. sanction in 2020, Huawei has faced unprecedented challenges in chip supply. Huawei’s suppliers had been notified to cut production.


According to Huawei’s report, Huawei’s revenue comes from operators’ businesses, companies’ businesses, and consumer’ businesses. The Consumer businesses that are represented by smartphones are an important part of Huawei’s revenue. According to Huawei’s 2020 semi-annual report, the 255.8 billion yuan sales from the consumer business accounted for half of the total sales revenue of 454 billion yuan in the first half of 2020. 


Recently, Huawei senior executive Duan Anguo stated that Huawei has launched a smart pig farming program. He believes that the breeding industry is moving toward digitization, intelligence, and unmanned operations. Huawei plans to apply machine vision and artificial intelligence technologies to pig farming.


Source: Finance and Economics, February 21, 2021