Carter Center says its China-focused mission promotes democracy, not propaganda

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

The Carter Center’s chief executive says Republicans are criticizing the think tank’s relationship with China based on inaccurate ideas about what diplomacy in a Communist nation means.

The Atlanta nonprofit founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, has had a long-standing focus on normalizing relations between the United States and China. But the center is not a tool for the East Asian nation to spread its ideology, CEO Paige Alexander wrote in recent letter.

“I would like to emphasize that hosting an online event with Chinese organizations cannot, and should not, be equivocated to platforming Chinese propaganda,” Alexander said.

Her letter, dated for Tuesday, was sent in response to a Feb. 24 letter signed by U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Jody Hice and Austin Scott, all Georgia Republicans. They accuse the Carter Center of partnering with organizations that are fronts for China’s government and ruling Communist Party, and they demand an explanation.

The congressmen’s letter aligned with the Republican Party’s anti-China strategy, an approach that gained momentum during then-President Donald Trump’s four years in office.

Alexander writes in response to the congressmen that the Carter Center’s programming has helped promote democracy and the loosening of restrictions in China. She said the center is one of the few organizations that has a presence in the East Asian nation and is free to speak about human rights and international relations.

“The Carter Center believes in building bridges, and people-to-people diplomacy is a critical avenue to do so,” she wrote. “We welcome you to the Center to further discuss the importance of our mission in promoting a peaceful, sustainable, and prosperous U.S.-China relationship.”

Read the Carter Center's response: