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Political Science Speaker Series: Naima Green-Riley

Thursday, February 1 | 4:17 PM

Seigle Hall, 248
Harry & Susan Seigle Hall

Political concerns over Chinese ideological influence in the United States have focused heavily on the threats posed by U.S.-based Confucius Institutes and Classrooms. At the apex of its presence in the United States, the Confucius network reached over 100 Institutes and several hundred K-12 classrooms offering Chinese government-funded language learning across the country. This chapter investigates the aims and effects of Chinese Confucius programming as part of China’s larger public diplomacy strategy. The chapter relies on a year-long field study following a group of U.S. high schoolers at two schools with Chinese Confucius Classrooms. It draws upon three waves of a longitudinal survey, interviews and focus groups, as well as classroom observations at the schools. The responses of students taking part in the Chinese program are compared to those of students who do not take part, and they are also compared to responses from original, simultaneous national surveys fielded by Dynata of teens aged 12-18 and adults in the United States. The study shows that over several months of programming, favorability of student views towards China decreases regardless of whether students are studying Chinese in Confucius Classrooms or not. Throughout the study period, China-relevant knowledge increases among Confucius Classroom students. These students’ ideas about China exhibit a mix of positive and negative judgments, indicating that they have developed complex conceptions of the Chinese state. Ultimately, changes in favorability for students taking part in the program are mediated through perceptions of the extent to which China helps or hurts the U.S. This chapter suggests both possibilities and limitations of Chinese transnational public influence via educational programs.

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Come hear from Naima Green-Riley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, on the topic "How Perilous are Paper Fans? Public Diplomacy through Confucius Classrooms and Implications for Chinese Influence."
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