Confucianism v. Americanism

Through hundreds of Confucius Institutes at schools overseas, the Chinese government has been spreading its soft power through the teaching of Chinese language and culture. Now, a program called Confucius Classroom, co-sponsored by the Asia Society, which funds Chinese language programs in K-12 schools, has sparked outrage among some who don’t want American students learning what they assume will be Communist propaganda. Near Los Angeles, the community of Hacienda Heights is deeply divided over the issue:

Activist Kai Chen and former Hacienda La Puente Unified Superintendent John Kramar reviewed the materials for the district’s new Confucius Classroom on Friday.

“That’s part of Chinese infiltration into this country and the corruption of the political culture of America,” Chen said of the classroom, which will be funded by the Chinese Language Council International, or Hanban.

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District officials have allowed the public to view and provide feedback on books, DVDs and other instructional aids that will be used in the Confucius Classroom elective course at Cedarlane Middle School this fall.

After reviewing the books Friday, Kramar and Chen said they believed the Chinese-sponsored literature did not include a thorough account of the nation’s history. They were also concerned about several definitions in a Chinese dictionary they said reflect ideals of Communism.

And from another article from the right-wing New American:

“Though one tiny corner of my conscience says sure, the more the Chinese spend IN the United States the less they’ll have left to compete with and undermine us. But most of me is outraged — and a little bit alarmed.”

People sounded a similar alarm when the Confucius Institute opened at UCLA in 2007, said Susan Pertel, the program’s executive director. “Everybody was concerned we would be told what to do, what to teach,” she said. “That’s not the situation at all. It’s very much a partnership.”

“People accuse us of advancing a Chinese agenda,” said Chen. “They say the Chinese community is taking over. But one of the reasons to have the program is to make Cedarlane more attractive to all students, not just the Chinese.” But the school district’s voters might have a different idea about how to make the schools attractive, said King, the former superintendent.

“Our kids need to be taught Americanism,” he said. “This board is going to pay a price. I think the community is upset enough to vote them out.”


Word is that Jon Stewart will tackle the dispute in an upcoming show.



  1. This is so ridiculous. With this type of logic, schools should stop teaching about the statue of liberty because those french might just be a bunch of socialists, or something silly like that. These are probably the same people who say not to teach about native americans because they have communal cultures. I just love how they have the Asian token spokesperson for this cause. People are so ridiculously scared about communism that it will prevent children from learning a highly important language.

  2. [...] Comments Melanie on Guest-Teaching Chinese, and Learning AmericaMelanie on Confucianism v. AmericanismMelanie on More resources for bilingual familiessophie on Baby’s First WordsCristy Li on [...]

  3. [...] funding for a Chinese language program in a middle school there. You can read more about the debate here. In short, opponents claim the program, which is partially funded by the Chinese government, will [...]

Leave a comment