CIUS Center: Secretary Pompeo Makes Mistake about Who His own Department Designated a Mission

Seems to Casually Accuses American Citizens of Treason

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Responding to a recent interview in which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about Confucius Institute Programs with Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs, CIUS Director of Communications Erik Eging observed that misinformation about CI programs was communicated in an interview that did not even accurately describe the current State Department outreach to CIUS. "CI programs are independently run by the school that choose to set them up and by personnel hired by those schools. You don't have to take our word for it as a GAO report details that extremely well. While the State Department has contacted CIUS, we also are an independent program that facilitates language learning and travel for U.S.-based students abroad and do not operate as a national headquarter of any kind. The State Department has been provided with all of this information already," Eging said. "Yet in the interview, Mr. Pompeo seems confused about his own Department's designation, saying that across the country all CI programs had been designated as foreign missions and that they were working to recruit 'spies and collaborators' at U.S. colleges. As a proud American, I am troubled both by misstatements and unsubstantiated allegations as well as the inference that I and the other Americans I work with would engage against the interest of my own country. While we understand that officials have concerns, that does not justify such accusations about other Americans without proof."

On August 19th, the State Department designated the CIUS office, and only this office, as a foreign mission. This did not extend to the CI programs in other schools, as CIUS is not connected to other programming and has no authority over other programs.

"If I've learned anything growing up in this country, it's that people are innocent until proven guilty. Such a strong assertion about our recruiting spies and collaborators should be backed by even stronger evidence. This has yet to be provided. It's rather ironic than an administration that constantly complains about being faced with a lot of unsubstantiated accusations would be so casual about statements that have significant consequences for their fellow Americans. At this point it is incumbent on the State Department to produce more than words," Eging said. "What is unfortunate, unfair, and frankly Un-American is a language program that has become a lightning rod for people's frustrations with another nation. In my particular office, we are almost all Americans who love language education, and are supported by Americans who believe language is a tool that can draw people closer together and build bridges that transcend politics. We have consistently opened our doors to any inquiries and have expressed our concerns about these latest claims made by Secretary Pompeo in multiple correspondents with the State Department without response."

To read our response to the State Department's inquirers, click here and here.

For more on the GAO report and its findings, click here.

For more on the CIUS programming model and frequently asked questions, click here. For one American student's CI story, check out an op-ed from retired Judge Doug McDonald.

MEDIA ALERT: To set up an interview or for more information, contact the CIUS Center at press@ciuscenter.org

To learn more about the Confucius Institute and how the programs operate, visit www.ciuscenter.org. The Confucius Institute U.S. Center is a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes the value of mutual understanding between the US and China through language education and cultural exchanges. Confucius Institute programs operate independently at host colleges and universities to prepare the next generation of leaders through language, arts, culture and educational travel experiences. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram@CIUSCenter.

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SOURCE Confucius Institute U.S. Center