There’s been a lot of talk recently about Beijing’s “soft power,” one initiative of which is the many Confucius Institutes (272 in all!) popping up around the world. Unfortunately, some people in Hacienda Heights, California – a pretty darn Asian neighborhood to begin with – don’t take too kindly to thems teachin’ Chinese to thems childrens. And Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi was there to talk to them about it.
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Watched the video? Funny, huh? In reality though, people opposed to the supposed China brainwashing scheme don’t just include dowdy white ladies who seem to have bleached out their brains. In fact, one of the most prominent protesters of PRC influence on the educational sphere used to be part of the Red Army.
I’m not saying that Kai Chen or the lady in the video aren’t extremely paranoid, but considering the very filtered view of the world we get here, thanks completely due to the Chinese government’s iron fist on information, it’s not exactly strange to wonder if their Chinese lessons may be washed out too.
Sure, it’s fine when the lesson plans just include words like “you,” “me,” and “rainbows,” but I remember my middle school learning book here in Shanghai was filled with stories of Communist heroes and my HSK prep materials have an almost insanely positive view of Chinese development over the last twenty years. Just sayin’ – parents, the school board of Hacienda Heights is letting you review all the materials. And while Fox News and the Epoch Times are scaremongers and/or hideously xenophobic, it’s not exactly a stretch to say that the “Chinese culture” classes may have been at least as carefully colored as an American History textbook.