Today, the Department of State terminated five programs, disguised as “cultural exchanges,” with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These programs include the Policymakers Educational China Trip Program, the U.S.-China Friendship Program, the U.S.-China Leadership Exchange Program, and the U.S.-China Transpacific Exchange Program and the Hong Kong Educational and Cultural Program. Such programs, conducted under Section 108A of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA), allow U.S. government employees to travel using foreign government funds.
While other programs funded under the auspices of the MECEA are mutually beneficial, the five programs in question are fully funded and operated by the PRC government as soft power propaganda tools. They provide carefully curated access to Chinese Communist Party officials, not to the Chinese people, who do not enjoy freedoms of speech and assembly. The United States welcomes the reciprocal and fair exchange of cultural programs with PRC officials and the Chinese people, but one-way programs such as these are not mutually beneficial.