In a press interview in the US on September 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that he is “hopeful” that all of the Chinese Confucius Institutes in the US will be closed by the end of this year. Confucius Institutes are educational institutes of Chinese language and culture, and are operated under the management and financial support of the Chinese government based on its cooperation agreements with universities and colleges and other related institutions all over the world. However, the institutes at issue in the US are recognized as the Chinese government’s propaganda arms, and it is suspected that the recruitment of spies and collaborators are conducted inside those institutes, which would have a harmful influence on the US. Therefore, in August, the US Department of State required the Confucius Institutes to register as a foreign mission in order to become a legally binding entity. At present, more than 450 institutes are said to be active all over the world. 75 institutes are operating in the US and 15 in Japan.
The US government has recently been doubtful about the Confucius Institutes for the above-mentioned reason. In fact, I remarked on the Confucius Institutes at the Committee on Organizations Involved with Information and Communications of the Liberal Democratic Party about ten years ago. From my experience at that time, I appreciate Secretary of State Pompeo’s statement in which he pointed out the risks of the Chinese government’s involvement in the management of the Confucius Institutes. The Japanese government should also perceive such risks regarding the 15 institutes in Japan, and whenever necessary, the government should endeavor to remove the said risks from those institutes.
Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent statements which oppose the Chinese government’s ideology stand out. Since President Trump has extremely been busy with his election campaign for the presidential election which will be held on November 3, I cannot help feeling that the Secretary of State is announcing the government’s statements on behalf of the President, with confidence. Probably he is conscious of becoming a Republican candidate in the presidential election which will held four years later.