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  • Writer's pictureIntrepid Research

Former Senator and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Supports CCP-Sponsored Confucius Institutes

Former Senator and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was once labeled by CNN as the “Democrats’ Favorite Republican” after both Joe Biden and John Edwards said they would pick him as their running mate if they had to pick from across the aisle. President Obama appointed him Secretary of Defense.

It’s possible he is also one of China’s favorite Republicans as he has advocated on behalf of the CCP’s massive influence operations in the West and around the world through Confucius Institutes. This follows a pattern of pro-China statements and activities by Hagel over the course of his career.

On November 10, 2010, former Senator Hagel visited the Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln along with the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Xi’an Jiaotong University posted the following online regarding the day’s events:

On the morning of November 11, the honorable ZHANG Yesui, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, together with the former U.S. senator from Nebraska, Mr. Chuck Hagel, visited the Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), and met with the director-general of the Nebraska Department of Education, leaders of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the chairman of the Chinese-American Association, and teachers of the Confucius Institute. UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman introduced the work of the Confucius Institute, which is jointly operated by UNL and XJTU, and currently has 13 Chinese teachers on its staff. With the help of the institute, the teaching of Chinese language and culture has radiated out to primary schools, middle schools and universities in Nebraska. The cultural activities offered by the Institute are rich and colorful. The work of the Confucius Institute has increased interest in the study of Chinese around the world.

Ambassador ZHANG Yesui praised achievements of the UNL Confucius Institute.

Hagel and Zhang then spoke as part of the E.N. Thompson Form on World Issues Lecture Series on the topic of “China Rising: Good News or Bad News for U.S. Workers, Consumers and Investors?” [Video:]. Hagel speaks of the coming establishment of a “new world order.”

As The National Pulse has previously reported, Hagel gave the opening keynote address to the 2012 National Chinese Language Conference, sponsored by China’s Confucius Institute Headquarters, also known as Hanban.

In 2014, Bill Gertz reported that then-Secretary of Defense Hagel unilaterally released details of U.S. cyber warfare doctrine and capabilities to the Chinese military, without reciprocation from their side.

On July 11, 2017, the Confucius Institute U.S. Center posted a praising quote from Hagel, “What the Confucius Institute does is to go deeper down into the nature of that (mutual) understanding.”

The Confucius Institute U.S. Center holds an annual gala to give out their annual “People-to-People Awards.” Former Secretary Hagel’s name appears on their list of 2017 National Honors Gala Honorary Host Committee Members, along with a number of other VIPs from government, business, and academia.

In 2018, the Confucius Institute U.S. Center & World Affairs Council-DC held a joint series of interviews with various public figures as part of a “U.S.-China Global Education Television Series.” Former Secretary Hagel participated. [Video:]

Hagel is interviewed by Ronnie Green, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which, at the time, hosted a Confucius Institute, of which Green was very supportive. It was closed in 2020, however, due to budget reasons.

In the exchange below, Hagel gives advice for how Confucius Institutes can advance themselves in the United States. [Video of Q&A below starting at 37:49]

Green: Do you have any advice for the 110 [Confucius] Institutes here in the U.S. on how they can improve or grow or develop further this concept of sharing culture and language in the future.

Hagel: “Well, the only thing I would say, because I know you all work very hard at it and that’s the only way you, obviously, can succeed and grow. But, find opportunities as much as you can and try and invent opportunities to make the Confucius centers relevant. Relevant to everyday life, of Americans, of people, of citizens, of everybody. I suspect that most people think that the Confucius centers at the universities are very good. Probably don’t know a lot about them. But, if they had a better grasp and connecting point on ‘Why are they relevant? Why should I know anything about them or help them or add to what they’re doing or support them? Because they are relevant to America’s future. They are relevant to the world’s future. And, that connects. So, every opportunity you can find, and I know you do this already – speaking at Rotary groups or whatever it is, there are so many ways to do it. Always remember that institutions are only as effective as they are relevant. If you are irrelevant, you’re not going to be effective and you won’t be around long. [...] Why is it important that the Confucius center be supported? I think you’ve got a great story. It’s as good a story, or better, than almost any story, because it is so necessary and relevant to the future of our country.”

The CIUS embraced Hagel’s comments and sent out multiple tweets about his interview.

Confucius Institutes are part of a known influence operation being conducted by the Chinese Communist Party. Here is a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense giving them glowing praise and advice on how to further succeed in their mission.

Hagel’s position toward China is very much that of a globalist. This is consistent in Hagel’s comments over a number of years. His rhetoric indicates that he seeks to build an alliance with China. Worth noting, not once in Hagel’s remarks we reviewed does he mention communism or the Chinese Communist Party. Hagel also avoids any discussion of human rights issues other than a very cursory mention. Hagel’s idealistic vision of a cooperative U.S.-Chinese relationship are such that in a piece for The National Interest in 2013, even a former advisor to President Carter called Hagel a “China dove.”

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