jeudi 18 janvier 2018

China's Real Offshore Disaster

There isn't much left for a million tons of light oil to kill.
By Adam Minter

Fishing fleets have grown exponentially. 

Last Sunday's sinking of an Iranian oil tanker 180 miles off the coast of Shanghai certainly looks like an environmental disaster. 
Depending on how many of the ship's 1 million barrels of condensate were released into the ocean and not burned off, the accident could end up being one of the biggest oil spills in half a century. 
The irony? 
Even that wouldn't represent the biggest disaster to befall the area.
The fact is, thanks to massive overfishing in China's territorial waters, there isn't much marine life left to kill in the disaster zone. 
According to He Pemin of Shanghai Ocean University, those waters have been so denuded over the last three decades that fishermen "normally bypass the area and go further afield for a bigger catch."
It's a dark twist to an accident that has the potential to send oil drifting to the California coast
And it should encourage the Chinese government to rethink how it manages its marine environment. The need is urgent: China's hunger for seafood is fast outstripping its domestic resources. Consequences already loom, including food inflation, a depleted environment for the hundreds of millions of Chinese who live along the coast, and rising international tensions.
Chinese fishermen traditionally concentrated on inland and coastal waters. 
But as the economy opened up in the late 1970s and private fishing fleets grew in size, those areas were quickly fished out.
Seeing the industry as a jobs creator, local officials were loath to restrain it. 
The national government didn't do much better. 
Instead of crafting policies to sustain inshore fishing (by controlling catches and combating massive coastal pollution, for starters), authorities offered subsidies and technical support to help fishermen venture further offshore into the East China Sea. (The money also supported other "blue economy" industries such as shipbuilding and offshore drilling.) 
In 1985, just 10 percent of China's catch was netted in those far-flung fishing grounds; by 2000, it was 35 percent.
The shift was driven by a massive jump in China's seafood consumption as its population has become more affluent. 
Growth has averaged 7.9 percent annually since the late 1970s. 
Chinese seafood consumption increased 50 percent in just the last decade, to 62 million tons annually. That accounts for nearly two-thirds of global growth.
China's wild catch from its territorial waters is now around 13 million tons, up from around 3 million tons in the mid-1970s. 
Even China's Ministry of Agriculture says that's roughly 25 percent more than what's sustainable. 
And it's still not enough: China's gone from being a seafood exporter to a seafood importer because of burgeoning demand.
In the East China Sea, once one of the world's richest fisheries, the toll has been extreme. 
As far back as 2006, environmental officials declared that 81 percent of the area was badly polluted. 
Catches -- and fishing employment -- were badly down. 
In 2016, China's Ministry of Agriculture declared that there were "no fish" left at all.
Though an exaggeration, there's some truth to the statement: Recent studies have shown that massive overfishing has so depleted large predatory fish that small fish and invertebrates -- many of which are inedible for humans -- are all that's left to catch. 
As a result, China's fishing fleet is venturing further from home than ever, infringing on others' traditional fishing grounds and inflaming international tensions.
Since 1995, the Chinese government has implemented seasonal moratoriums in key fisheries to help stocks recover. 
It's established more than 250 loosely managed Marine Protected Areas, where species are theoretically protected from fishing, and rolled back some fuel subsidies for fishing fleets. 
Such measures have been limited in their effectiveness, however -- as moratoriums end, fishermen rush in to make up for lost time -- and they're unlikely to resuscitate the East China Sea or any other Chinese fishery.
Instead, China needs to implement structural changes in the ways that it monitors and regulates fisheries. 
First, China needs to establish a transparent public process for collecting and sharing data on fisheries; one doesn't currently exist, which makes informed fisheries management nearly impossible.
Second, scientists must have equal standing with policymakers when catch limits and other such decisions are made. 
For too long, economics and politics have dominated the opaque process. 
Finally, China's government needs to expand its Marine Protected Areas and centralize control over them. 
Currently, self-interested (or uninterested) local governments are in charge of enforcement, with predictable results.
It'll take decades to restore the East China Sea to its once fruitful past. 
But the alternative -- a body of water so badly damaged that a major oil spill might not degrade it significantly -- is hardly a future that China should accept.

Sino-American Loyalty

Hunting a C.I.A. Mole, Agents Gambled and Let a Suspect Return to China

Fears of a mole grew when the C.I.A. noticed in late 2010 that its spies were disappearing.
WASHINGTON — Face to face with a former C.I.A. officer in 2013, federal agents took a calculated risk.
They did not confront him about the classified information they had found in his luggage.
And they did not ask what they most wanted to know: whether he was a spy for China.
It was a life-or-death call.
The Chinese government had been systematically picking off American spies in China, dismantling a network that had taken the C.I.A. years to build.
A mole hunt was underway, and the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was the prime suspect.
The F.B.I. could have arrested him on the spot for possessing classified information. 
But inside a secretive government task force, investigators argued against it, former American officials recalled. 
If Lee were a turncoat, arresting him on an unrelated charge would tip off the Chinese and allow them to cover their tracks. 
If he was not the mole — and some argued strenuously that he was not — an arrest might allow the real traitor to escape.
So the F.B.I. allowed Lee to return to Hong Kong, court papers show, where he hastily resettled with his family. 
The agents, working out of an office in Northern Virginia, gambled that by watching patiently, they might piece together how China had decimated the United States’ spy network, and determine whether Lee had helped.
Nearly five years later, when Lee made a surprise return to the United States this week, the F.B.I. made its move. 
He stepped off a Cathay Pacific flight at Kennedy International Airport on Monday and was waved through customs. 
A waiting F.B.I. agent, Kellie O’Brien, called out his name, according to court records. 
Lee answered, and was arrested.
His apprehension, on the same single charge that could have been brought years ago, is the latest development in one of the most damaging affairs in modern C.I.A. history. 
But it does nothing to settle the question of how or whether Lee was involved. 
For years, he was the prime suspect in a mole hunt, but officials disagreed over whether he was actually to blame.
One government official said there was no plan at the moment to charge Lee with espionage, handing over American secrets to the Chinese or anything beyond the one felony count of illegally possessing classified information. 
That would leave open the mystery of how China managed to unravel the C.I.A.’s web of informants.
Neither the F.B.I. nor the Justice Department would discuss this high-stakes back story on Wednesday. 
“This is an example of the system working,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. 
“The defendant arrived in this country, we apprehended him and he has been charged with an extremely serious offense.”
In an email, Lee’s college-age daughter declined to discuss the case and said that no lawyer or family member was available to speak on his behalf.
The New York Times revealed the decimation of the C.I.A.’s network last year, citing 10 current and former government officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation. Several of them identified Lee as the key suspect at the time.
Lee, 53, took an unremarkable path through the C.I.A. 
He became a United States citizen and, after four years in the Army, studied international business management at Hawaii Pacific University. 
He graduated in 1992 and received a master’s degree in human resource management the next year.
From there, he joined the C.I.A., posing as an American diplomat while serving as a clandestine case officer. 
From old address records, he appears to have served in Tokyo from about 1999 to 2002. 
Officials say he also worked at the East Asia Division at C.I.A. Headquarters and the agency’s Beijing station before he left in 2007 and took a job in Hong Kong.
When the C.I.A. noticed in late 2010 that its spies were disappearing, suspicion did not immediately turn to Lee.
But as fears of a mole grew, the government set up a secret task force of C.I.A. officers and F.B.I. agents. 
A veteran F.B.I. counterintelligence agent, Charles McGonigal, was assigned to run it, former American law enforcement officials said.
As the disappearances continued, analysts concluded that Lee, even though he had been out of the C.I.A. for years, had known the identities of many of the those who had been killed or imprisoned. 
He showed all the indicators on a government matrix used to identify potential espionage threats.
But warning signs can be wrong. 
At the C.I.A., top officials ruefully remembered the treatment of Brian J. Kelly, an agency officer who in the 1990s was wrongly suspected by the F.B.I. of being a Russian spy. 
More recently, the Justice Department’s efforts to unearth Chinese spies have suffered embarrassing setbacks, including dropped charges against prominent Chinese-Americans.
In Lee’s case, other possible explanations existed. 
Some investigators believed that China had cracked the C.I.A.’s system for communicating with its informants. 
The spy agency had encountered similar problems in other countries, and some investigators believed the technology was too clunky to stand up to China’s sophisticated computer specialists.
Another group accused C.I.A. officials in Beijing of being sloppy and allowing themselves to be identified when meeting with their informants. 
It was an acrimonious dispute, and some officials conceded that a combination of factors could account for the damage.
Some former officials who reviewed the evidence described the case against Lee as strong but circumstantial, not bulletproof. 
Some at the C.I.A. argued that officials were too quick to suspect a mole when there were other explanations.
The F.B.I. was watching in August 2012 when Lee returned to the United States with his family. Agents secretly entered his hotel rooms in Hawaii and Virginia and discovered two small books with handwritten notes that contained classified information, including the identities of undercover C.I.A. officials, court papers show.
The information the books contained, including details about meetings between C.I.A. informants and undercover agents, as well as their real names and phone numbers, matched documents that Lee had written while at the C.I.A., according to court documents. 
It was not clear whether any of the people identified in his documents were part of the Chinese roundup of C.I.A. sources.
Agents spoke with him repeatedly in the following months. 
Both the attorney general at the time, Eric H. Holder Jr., and Robert S. Mueller III, then the F.B.I. director, were personally briefed on the investigation and pledged whatever resources were necessary. But senior government officials said they cannot recall any serious push to arrest Lee at the time or to try to charge him with espionage in connection with the lost Chinese informants.
So in June 2013, the agents let Lee leave. 
Current and former officials have said that the C.I.A.’s losses had ended by late 2012, so there is no evidence that the decision allowed more informants to be captured or killed.
At least once in recent years, according to a government official, Lee returned to the United States without attracting the F.B.I.’s attention. 
It was not clear how or why he did so.
At some point the Justice Department decided that if it had the chance, it would charge Lee. 
Officials suspected that opportunity might come later this year when Lee’s daughter graduated from college, an occasion that might draw him back to the United States.
When Lee surprised the government recently by booking a trip to New York, prosecutors hurried to file the charge that they had kept waiting for years.

Chinese subversion: Look in the gift horse’s mouth

There is growing concern about Beijing’s attempts to shape the thinking of politicians and the public overseas
The Guardian

The arrest of a former CIA agent this week is the stuff of a classic murky spy tale. 
Though he is charged with unlawfully retaining national defence information, the US suspects that he leaked the names of informants. 
An earlier report alleged that China imprisoned or killed multiple US sources between 2010 and 2012. 
Both countries have plans for tackling espionage. 
But analysts, intelligence agencies and politicians are now debating how to handle the subtler challenge of Chinese influence activities: a “magic weapon” neither cloak-and-dagger nor transparent.
China says it does not interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs. 
Yet all nations seek to sway foreign governments and citizens towards their own priorities, interests and perspectives. 
The question is how they do so, and how far they go.
China’s influence work is strategic and multifaceted. 
Some of it is distinctive mainly for lavish resourcing. 
The National Endowment for Democracy recently described other aspects as “sharp power”: the effort by authoritarian states not just to attract support but to determine and control attitudes abroad. It seeks to “guide” the diaspora and enlist it for political activity
It embraces foreigners, appointing those with political influence to high-profile roles in Chinese companies. 
Chinese-language media overseas have been bought by entrepreneurs with ties to Beijing. Partnerships with universities shape research and limit debate.
Last month, Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, introduced a bill banning foreign donations as he warned of “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated” attempts to influence politics. 
It follows a senator’s resignation after allegations that he tipped off a Chinese donor that his phone was tapped by security agencies; the case has reportedly prompted the Trump administration to open an investigation into Beijing’s covert influence operations in the US. 
In New Zealand, a Chinese-born MP denied being a spy after it emerged that he had spent years at top Chinese military colleges. 
A leading scholar on China has alleged that its “covert, corrupting and coercive political influence activities in New Zealand are now at a critical level”.
Citizens have the right to listen to the views of a foreign government, be persuaded and share them. But to speak for them, on their order, is different. 
Is someone acting spontaneously, or have they been prodded, coerced or bought? What links or leverage does Beijing enjoy? 
Establishing the answers is hard – and proving self-censorship even tougher. 
But it is essential to at least attempt to distinguish between legitimate, improper and illegal activities.
Casting light on the issue is by far the most important step. 
Democracies must delve into areas that may prove embarrassing. 
They need the capability to do so – starting with language skills. 
Working together would help. 
In places, laws may need to be tightened, though with care: banning foreign political donations is a basic step. 
For this issue says as much about the west as China. 
Beijing’s keenness to control speech is manifest, while influential figures and institutions in democracies proclaim lofty ideals – then fall prey to gullibility or greed. 
China’s influence would not go very far without the western hunger for its cash.

mercredi 17 janvier 2018

China's Gift

China’s Tiangong-1 space station could crash into Europe within weeks with toxic chemical on board
Several European countries are at risk of an over-land impact as the rogue spacecraft starts to fall from orbit

By Sean Keach

CHINA'S Tiangong-1 space station is expected to crash into earth in just a few weeks, according to experts.
The out-of-control spacecraft launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China's space agency and is now falling out of orbit.

The Tiangong-1 space station was originally expected to crash in late 2017
Experts currently predict that the space station will fall somewhere over Europe, and could even hit land.
The European Space Agency is issuing regular updates about Tiangong-1's descent to earth, with the latest saying a crash is likely to happen very soon.
"The current estimated window is 17 March to 21 April; this is highly variable."
"Re-entry will take place anywhere between 43ºN and 43ºS (e.g. Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, etc.)."

Current estimates put the expected crash site as potentially somewhere in Europe

This graphic shows possible crash locations

The ESA adds that it will never be able go give a "precise time/location prediction" for the crash, but says that areas outside of the above latitudes "can be excluded".
Despite a consensus from experts around the world, China hasn't actually admitted that the spacecraft's descent is uncontrolled.
Zhu Congpeng, from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporate said: "We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year."
"It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface."

The Tiangong-1 station carries toxic material, but experts say it's unlikely anyone will be hit
Tiangong-1, which means 'heavenly palace' in Chinese, is carrying a highly toxic chemical called hydrazine.
The material is used as rocket fuel, but exposure to humans is believed to cause symptoms like nausea and seizures, with long-term contact said to cause cancer.
The good news is that it's very unlikely that anyone will actually get hit by the spacecraft, which is expected to break up into debris upon re-entry.
A statement from the non-profit Aerospace Corporation explains: "When considering the worst-case location, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot."

The crash is now likely to happen in late March or early April
"In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by re-entering space debris."
"Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured."
The ESA's Holger Krag told Newsweek: "Owing to the geometry of the station's orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43°N or further south than 43°S."
"This means that re-entry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes, which includes several European countries, for example."
"The date, time and geographic footprint of the re-entry can only be predicted with large uncertainties."
"Even shortly before re-entry, only a very large time and geographical window can be estimated."

State Terrorism

Chinese-American journalist's wife kidnapped by China

Paramilitary police officer guards entrance to U.S. embassy in Beijing on April 30, 2012.

BEIJING -- A Chinese-American journalist who extensively interviewed an exiled businessman says his wife has been kidnapped and held for months by Chinese security forces, adding a subplot to the high-stakes drama that has transfixed followers of Chinese politics.
Chen Xiaoping, a New York-based editor at Chinese-language Mirror Media Group, told The Associated Press that a new video that surfaced this week of his wife denouncing his work was filmed under duress and proves that she is being held by the government in an effort to pressure him.
Over the past year, Chen has been at the centre of a political firestorm surrounding Guo Wengui, a fugitive real estate billionaire who repeatedly appeared on his live-streamed broadcast to air allegations of corruption within the upper echelons of China's ruling Communist Party.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Xi Jinping, front right, meets representatives attending the award ceremony on ethical role models and pioneers in Beijing, China on Nov. 17, 2017.

In September, shortly before one of Chen's broadcasts, his wife Li Huaiping, who remained in China, sent him a terse message saying she was "in trouble," Chen said.
Li was not heard from until Sunday, when an anonymous YouTube account believed to be linked to Chinese security agencies uploaded a video in which she explained she had cut all contact with Chen due to "emotional issues" -- as well as his "overseas work." 
The video is the first sign of Li since she disappeared from her home in Guangdong province, and it was uploaded a day after Chen published an open letter on Twitter to Xi Jinping pleading for his wife's freedom.
"I didn't think a video would be released so quickly after I wrote my letter," Chen said from Long Island, New York. 
"It's clear that my wife's kidnapping and my work have been totally related."
Li, who appears to be reading from a prepared text in the video, also asked Chen to stop searching for her and speaking out publicly on her behalf.
"They forced her to make this video," Chen said.
Chen has spoken to State Department and congressional officials about the disappearance of his wife, who is a U.S. permanent resident, he said. 
Chen became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2012 and married Li that same year.
Spokesmen for the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing referred inquiries to police headquarters in the southern province of Guangdong, where calls rang unanswered Wednesday.
Li's disappearance carries echoes of 2015, when several Hong Kong publishers who sold politically sensitive books vanished in quick succession -- believed to be abducted by Chinese agents -- in cases that sent chills through Chinese-language political media around the world.
But until the recent disappearance of Chen's wife, Mirror Media Group, under the direction of its publisher Ho Pin, managed to avoid the pitfalls of the business while cultivating its reputation as one of the top clearinghouses for Chinese political gossip.
The outlet's following and profile skyrocketed in 2017 when Chen conducted half-dozen interviews with Guo, who is seeking asylum in the U.S. 
Chinese authorities have accused Guo, who lives in Manhattan, of a long litany of "crimes", including bribery, extortion, kidnapping, genocide and rape.

Crimes In The Name Of Confucius

How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms
Chinese subversion machine has continued its forward march on college campuses across the United States

Last year, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made an announcement to great fanfare: The university would soon open a branch of the Confucius Institute, the Chinese government-funded educational institutions that teach Chinese language, culture and history. 
The Confucius Institute would “help students be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly globalized world,” says Nancy Gutierrez, UNC Charlotte’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and “broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community,” according to a press release.
But the Confucius Institutes’ goals are a little less wholesome and edifying than they sound—and this is by the Chinese government’s own account. 
A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,” Li Changchun said. 
“It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”
Li, it now seems, was right to exult. 
More than a decade after they were created, Confucius Institutes have sprouted up at more than 500 college campuses worldwide, with more than 100 of them in the United States—including at The George Washington University, the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa. 
Overseen by a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education known colloquially as Hanban, the institutes are part of a broader propaganda initiative that the Chinese government is pumping an estimated $10 billion into annually, and they have only been bolstered by growing interest in China among American college students.
Yet along with their growth have come consistent questions about whether the institutes belong on campuses that profess to promote free inquiry. 
Confucius Institutes teach a very particular, Beijing-approved version of Chinese culture and history: one that ignores concerns over human rights, and teaches that Taiwan and Tibet indisputably belong to Mainland China. 
Take it from the aforementioned Li, who also said in 2009 that Confucius Institutes are an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” 
The centers have led to a climate of self-censorship on campuses that play host to them.
Despite years of these critiques—including a recent outcry at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the shuttering of Confucius Institutes at two of the nation’s top research universities—they’re still growing in number in the United States, albeit at a slower clip than a few years ago. Several opened on American campuses last year. 
And vanishingly few schools have rethought the institutes and closed them, suggesting that once they’re implanted, they’re entrenched. 
At several campuses, they’re actually expanding their footprints with bigger facilities and new courses. 
I contacted more than a half-dozen Confucius Institutes, and several officials said in interviews that they’re not looking back. (Others declined to comment or simply ignored me, further suggesting a commitment to keeping the Institutes going. The Chinese Embassy in Washington also did not respond to a request to comment by publication time.)
That so many universities have welcomed the Confucius Institute with open arms points to another disturbing trend in American higher education: an alarming willingness to accept money at the expense of principles that universities are ostensibly devoted to upholding
At a time when universities are as willing as ever to shield their charges from controversial viewpoints, some nonetheless welcome foreign, communist propaganda—if the price is right.
“Coordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for us,” Chinese minister of propaganda Liu Yunshan exhorted his compatriots in a 2010 People’s Daily article. 
With regard to key issues that influence our sovereignty and safety, we should actively carry out international propaganda battles against issuers such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, human rights and Falun Gong... We should do well in establishing and operating overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes.”
Liu’s orders have been heeded. 
The first Confucius Institute opened in South Korea in 2004. 
They quickly spread to Japan, Australia, Canada and Europe. 
The United States, China’s biggest geopolitical rival, has been a particular focus: Fully 40 percent of Confucius Institutes are stateside. 
In addition to the Institutes at universities, Hanban also operates hundreds of so-called Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools. 
The public school system of Chicago, for example, has outsourced its Chinese program to Confucius Classrooms.
Beijing treats this project seriously, as evidenced by who runs the show. 
Hanban (shorthand for the ruling body of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, a branch of the Ministry of Education) is classified technically as a nonprofit agency, but it is dominated by Communist Chinese officialdom. 
Representatives from 12 top state agencies—including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Press and Publishing Administration, a propaganda bureau—sit on its executive council. 
Hanban’s director general is on the Chinese state council, the 35-member board that basically runs the country.
Hanban has been shrewd in compelling universities to host Confucius Institutes. 
Marshall Sahlins, a retired University of Chicago anthropologist and author of the 2014 pamphlet Confucius Institutes: Academic Malware, reports that each Confucius Institute comes with “$100,000 in start up costs provided by Hanban, with annual payments of the like over a five-year period, and instruction subsidized as well, including the air fares and salaries of the teachers provided from China... Hanban also agrees to send textbooks, videos, and other classroom materials for these courses—materials that are often welcome in institutions without an important China studies program of their own.” 
And each Confucius Institute typically partners with a Chinese university.
They’re kind of like restaurant franchises: Open the kit, and you’re in business. 
American universities can continue to collect full tuition from their students while essentially outsourcing instruction in Chinese. 
In other words, it’s free money for the schools. 
At many (though not all) Confucius-hosting campuses, students can receive course credit for classes completed at the institute.
But the institutes go to some length to obscure their political purpose. 
There’s the name, for example: Most Americans associate Confucius with wisdom, or cutesy aphorisms. 
It’s likely the centers would be less successful were they called Mao Institutes. 
The Institutes also offer a plethora of “fun” classes—not for academic credit, and often open to members of the general public—in subjects like dumpling making and tai chi.
The Chinese teachers are thoroughly vetted by Hanban.
They “must have a strong sense of mission, glory, and responsibility and be conscientious and meticulous in [their] work,” Hanban says. 
They’re also explicitly instructed to toe Beijing’s line on controversial political questions. 
There can be no discussion whatsoever of human rights in China, or the Tiananmen Square massacre. 
Should a student raise an uncomfortable question about, say, the political status of Tibet, Hanban’s instructors are ordered to refocus the discussion on, say, Tibet’s natural beauty or indigenous cultural practices (which, ironically, Beijing has spent decades stamping out).
Matteo Mecacci of the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet requested a sampling of the Institute’s course materials from a D.C. area university several years ago. 
“Instead of scholarly materials published by credible American authors, not to speak of Tibetan writers, what we received were books and DVDs giving the Chinese narrative on Tibet published by China Intercontinental Press,” he wrote in Foreign Policy,“which is described by a Chinese government-run website as operating ‘under the authority of the State Council Information Office … whose main function is to produce propaganda products.’”
One student I spoke to—a junior at the University of Kentucky, which is home to a Confucius Institute—recalls attending a Confucius event at which another student, who was considering studying abroad in China, asked about the air pollution there. 
The response from the Confucius faculty was that the reports of pollution were “misinformation promoted in the U.S. media.” 
The student says Confucius faculty also “glorified and glossed over” negative aspects of Chinese culture and politics. 
Another student, a Kentucky senior who has taken classes at the same Confucius Institute, agrees that the institute “promotes an overly rosy picture of Chinese culture,” though, the student adds, “I don’t think it’s a problem for students to take advantage of [Confucius Institute] resources as long as they view the institute with a critical eye and round out their perspective on China with other experiences and points of view.”
Meanwhile, if Hanban’s instructors are not adequately vetted back home, there can be trouble. Consider the case of Sonia Zhao
Zhao, a Chinese national, was dispatched by Hanban to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2011 to teach Chinese language. 
She’s also a practitioner of Falun Gong, the Buddhist-tinged spiritual movement that Beijing despises as a threat to its authority. 
Zhao quit a year into her tenure, arguing that McMaster University was “giving legitimization to discrimination.” 
That’s because, in order to secure her employment with Hanban, Zhao said she was forced to disguise her fealty to Falun Gong. 
Her employment contract with Hanban explicitly stated that she was “not allowed to join illegal organizations such as Falun Gong,” she said. 
This kind of open religious discrimination is illegal in Canada, as it would be in the United States. 
McMaster University, in light of this disclosure, subsequently shuttered its Confucius Institute in 2013, citing the institute’s “hiring practices.”
Self-censorship has become an issue as well. 
In 2008, a court in Israel found that Tel Aviv University, home to a Confucius Institute, had illegitimately closed an art exhibition on Falun Gong because of Chinese government pressure. 
A year later, North Carolina State University, host to a Confucius Institute, scuttled a planned appearance by the Dalai Lama for fear of Chinese backlash: The director of the Institute warned NC State officials that such a visit could hurt “strong relationships we were developing with China.” A few years later, similar events transpired at the University of Sydney in Australia, which drew heat from members of the Parliament of Australia.
In recent weeks, I contracted administrators at several universities with Confucius Institutes, primarily ones that had opened recently, and none expressed regret or indeed much concern. 
The George Washington University, the private university nestled in the heart of the nation’s capital, has hosted a Confucius Institute for several years. 
The institute’s founding director, Peg Barratt, says her university’s “eyes were open” when GW opened its center in in 2013. 
“We were aware there was some controversy” surrounding Confucius Institutes when other universities opened theirs, she told me. 
“Some [other universities] had internal censorship,” she readily acknowledges. 
Nonetheless, she says the Institutes are innocuous, modeled, she argues, on European cultural institutes like the British Council, Goethe Institute and Alliance Française. 
Of course, not only are Great Britain, Germany and France not communist regimes, but those institutes are standalone enterprises, not on college campuses.
Western Kentucky University, where the Confucius Institute is expanding—it just moved into a new building—also defends its partnership. 
Terrill Martin, director of the Institute, told me, “I don’t believe the Confucius Institute program is controversial at all. I just believe that people don’t understand, don’t ask the right questions and make a lot of unfounded assumptions about the program, based on the failures of a few.”
Nancy Gutierrez, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says the institute there will fill an unmet need. 
“We made the decision to host a [Confucius Institute] because we believe that this partnership will allow us to expand understanding of Chinese culture very broadly—for community members and for our students,” she says. 
In other words, Hanban can provide resources that UNC presently can’t. 
Gutierrez also says, “A faculty advisory committee will provide the intellectual guidance … ensuring that we are guided by principles of academic freedom.” 
And she notes that Confucius Institute courses will not offer academic credit at UNC Charlotte—at least not yet. 
The same is true at Western Kentucky University.
Eric Einspruch, who chairs Portland State University’s Confucius Institute, also defends it: The Confucius Institute simply offers “noncredit Chinese courses, cultural programs of interest to the community, and faculty-initiated scholarly activity,” he says. 
But even the Institute’s innocuous-seeming language courses have come in for criticism. 
They only teach simplified characters, which are used on Mainland China but not in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore, estranging language learners from Chinese texts produced anywhere but the Mainland.
One institution that bucked the trend was the University of Chicago. 
The school opened a Confucius Institute in 2010, which quickly proved controversial. 
To Bruce Lincoln, a now-retired religion professor at Chicago who then served on the faculty senate, the Confucius Institute represented the “subcontracting [of the] educational mission” in the United States—a “hostile takeover of U.S. higher education by a foreign power,” as he told me. (Prior to his battle against the Confucius Institute, Lincoln was involved in another fight at the University of Chicago, against the establishment of a Milton Friedman Institute, which would have been largely funded by conservative donors. That too represented a subcontracting of the education mission, he believes—in this case, the “corporatization of universities.”)
When Hanban’s contract came up for renewal in 2014, Lincoln, along with Marshall Sahlins, led a petition drive, which garnered the support of more than 100 other faculty members, demanding that the contract be canceled. (There was very little student involvement, Lincoln says.) 
That year, the University of Chicago booted the Institute because of academic freedom concerns. Chicago’s move won praise from outlets as ideologically diverse as Forbes and the New York Review of Books. 
Shockingly few universities have followed Chicago’s lead, though, Penn State being one notable exception; it also closed its institute in 2014, as well.
Many of those universities who maintain Confucius Institutes appear to go to great lengths to shield them from criticism. 
Last year, Rachelle Peterson, a scholar at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, released a thorough report about Confucius Institutes for the National Association of Scholars, a right-leaning academic organization. 
At the heart of Peterson’s report were 12 case studies of Confucius Institutes at New York and New Jersey universities. 
Over the course of her reporting, Peterson says, “There were a lot of unanswered emails, a lot of unanswered phone calls” (an experience shared by this journalist). 
When she did manage to set up interviews with Confucius Institute staff, they were often canceled at the last minute, like those at the University of Albany and the University of Binghamton. 
Another time, when she managed to secure an interview with a Confucius Institute staff member, he insisted that the meeting “happen in a basement … not in his office.” 
He seemed afraid of being caught, she says.
The most disturbing event transpired at Alfred University in upstate New York. 
There, Peterson, says, she had “called the Confucius Institute, spoken to a teacher … and received permission to sit in on [a class].” 
As she observed the Chinese-language class, she recalls, the provost of the university charged into the classroom, interrupting the lesson. 
He ordered her removal from the classroom and told her she had to leave the campus immediately. Two security guards swiftly escorted her off campus. (Alfred University did not respond to a request for comment asking to confirm or deny Peterson’s account.)
Today, there are signs of a nascent, if isolated, backlash. 
Just last month, a group of students and alumni from UMass Boston, home of the Bay State’s only Confucius Institute, wrote a letter to the school’s chancellor expressing deep concern that the university is “unwittingly assisting the Chinese government to promote censorship abroad, while undermining human rights and academic freedom.” 
The UMass group requested a meeting with the chancellor to discuss their concerns, but according to Lhadon Tethong, a pro-Tibet activist who helped spearhead the letter, that request has yet to be answered. (A spokesperson for the university told the Boston Globe that the institute has succeeded in promoting “the mutual understanding of language and culture.”)
The National Association of Scholars suggests universities shutter their Confucius Institutes. 
But such counsel is hardly limited the ideological right. 
The American Association of University Professors, America’s leading professorial guild, also recommended in 2014 that “that universities cease their involvement in Confucius Institutes unless the agreement between the university and Hanban is renegotiated,” so that the universities have unilateral control over the curriculum and faculty, Confucius faculty have the same rights of free inquiry as their fellow teachers, and contracts between Hanban and the partner universities are made public.
Nonetheless, none of the schools I contacted said that they had any plans to shutter or reform their institutes.
Instead, Confucius Institutes continue their forward march.
In 2015, they opened at Tufts University, New Jersey City University, Southern Utah University and Northern State University in South Dakota.
In 2016, Savannah State University added one.
And last year, in addition to UNC-Charlotte, Transylvania University in Kentucky is launching a new branch.
Gutierrez of UNC concedes that, when her school announced it would open one earlier last year, many faculty members were concerned and “raised serious questions.”
But the structure the school developed—so as not allowing courses to be taken for credit—allayed such fears, she says.
Confucius Classrooms, for younger students, are also ascendant these days: In October, local media reported that three new ones would be planted in Texas public schools, and UMass Boston is helping develop them at schools in Massachusetts, including the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where a Confucius Classroom just launched.
At scores of universities, meanwhile, the institutes are expanding both physically and programmatically.
New courses and scholarships at existing ones are announced all the time.
And they’re growing rapidly overseas, particularly these days in Africa, where China has been aggressively expanding its footprint in recent years.
Lincoln, of the University of Chicago, says the institutes have proved successful, in a sense, because Hanban offers a “cheap way to teach classes that [otherwise] wouldn’t have been taught.”
Public universities have suffered punishing funding cuts over the past decade: “A decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historic levels, despite recent increases,” reads a recent report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
According to the Center, adjusting for inflation, public spending on community colleges and universities was about $9 billion below 2008 levels in 2017.
It’s unsurprising, then, that many institutes have sprung up at public universities, or that a huge amount of growth occurred from 2010 to 2012, when budgets were particularly hard hit.
But those conditions could return: President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would also severely slash funding for universities, likely pushing more schools to outsource programs.
The Economist, meanwhile, estimates that China is spending $10 billion a year to promote its image abroad through efforts like cultural festivals, foreign media (think of those China Daily inserts that are slipped into the Washington Post) and educational exchanges.
Confucius Institutes are a vital part of this mission.
It’s not hard to envision how they might work, for example, by one day weakening Americans’ loyalty to Taiwan.
It seems that Beijing probed, and found a weakness: money. 
It may be intellectually indefensible for universities to host Confucius Institutes, but at a time of reduced funding, it makes eminent sense.
How ironic that the ostensibly communist Chinese seem to understand financial imperatives better than we Yankees do.

Sino-American Double Loyalty

Ex-CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee spied for China

A former CIA officer who was charged Tuesday with unlawful possession of secrets is suspected of a much worse crime: betraying U.S. informants in China, sources familiar with the case told NBC News.
The former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, was arrested Monday after flying into New York on a Cathay Pacific flight from his home in Hong Kong, federal authorities announced.
Lee, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged with a single count of unlawfully possessing national defense information, based on a 2012 search that found him to be in possession of two notebooks containing the true names of CIA assets and covert facilities, which are some of the agency's most closely guarded secrets.
He is suspected of funneling information to China that caused the deaths or imprisonment of approximately 20 American agents, in one of the worst intelligence breaches in decades.
The New York Times reported last year that the Chinese government systematically dismantled CIA spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building. 

CIA and FBI officials were mystified and mortified as one after another of their best agents in China were jailed or executed.
It was considered the worst intelligence catastrophe since the 1990s, when Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, formerly of the CIA and the FBI, provided secrets to Moscow for years that led to the deaths of multiple agents. 
Both men are serving life terms in federal prison.
The Times story described a debate over a suspected mole, a former CIA case officer now living in an Asian country.
An FBI task force launched an investigation and began to focus on Lee, sources tell NBC News. 
It's unclear how the FBI lured Lee back to the U.S. but officials say there have been several undercover attempts to incriminate him, and at least one confrontational interview during which he denied being a spy.
In 2012, one source said, the FBI lured Lee back to the U.S. with a phony job offer, but no charges were filed and he returned to Hong Kong.
Officials familiar with the case say it is unlikely that Lee will be charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty. 
It may be that the government doesn't have the proof required for such a charge, or that it doesn't want to air secrets in an open courtroom.
But sources say Lee was the subject of an intense — and extremely secret — counterintelligence investigation. 
That included searches of his hotel rooms in Hawaii and Virginia in 2012, according to the court records filed Tuesday.
"A review of photographs taken during the August 13, 2012, search in Hawaii and the August 15, 2012, search in Virginia revealed that, during his stay in both hotels, Lee possessed two small books (the "books") best described as a datebook and an address book," the arrest affidavit said, adding that the books contained classified information.
"The datebook contained handwritten information pertaining to, but not limited to, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations, operational phone numbers, true names of assets, and covert facilities," the affidavit said. 
"The address book contained approximately twenty-one pages. The address book contained true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, as well as the addresses of CIA facilities."
Some who investigated the case believed the Chinese had hacked the communications the CIA was using to get in touch with its assets in China. 
A source familiar with the case said such a hack was possible, but that it was also clear Lee was spilling secrets to the Chinese.
Court documents say Lee had been a CIA case officer since 1994. 
He graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in International Business Management and in 1993 received a master's degree in Human Resource Management, according to court documents, which do not list a lawyer for him.