Congressional Republicans are seeking to have President Biden implement a rule requiring academic institutions to disclose their financial connections to Confucius Institutes funded by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Republican Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) sent a letter addressed to Biden on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to implement the rule, which was proposed by the Trump administration.
Trump administration rule—academic institutions disclose financial connections to Confucius Institutes
During the administration of former President Trump, the rule was crafted with the idea of requiring “schools certified by the student and exchange visitor program to disclose agreements with Confucius Institutes and classrooms.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the rule was withdrawn on Jan. 26 by the Biden administration, arguing that the interagency review by the Office of Management and Budget on the draft rule had not been completed by Inauguration Day.
The Trump administration worked to expose the CCP’s soft power threat through Confucius Institutes in U.S. educational institutions. Such institutes that prohibit politically sensitive topics for China are believed to be part of the CCP’s propaganda apparatus and promote espionage in the United States.
CCP’s soft power threat through Confucius Institutes
In 2019, Human Rights Watch referred to Confucius Institutes in a report as extensions of the Chinese Communist Party that censor certain topics and perspectives in politically motivated course materials and use hiring practices that take political allegiance into account.
In the letter the lawmakers stated, “We have significant concerns regarding the CCP’s nefarious actions and urge you to follow through on your commitments to advancing the interests of the American people as we collectively respond to the challenge that the CCP poses.”
“We believe it is critically important to better understand and reduce the CCP’s influence on the American people, including through the Hanban, its propaganda arm that runs Confucius Institutes through the [People’s Republic of China] Ministry of Education. The proposed rule is a necessary step in that effort and would bring needed transparency to Confucius Institutes,” they added in the letter.
The lawmakers emphasized that addressing the CCP threat was a national security concern of major importance.
The CCP’s abuse of America’s academic system
“Among the multitude of threats we face stemming from China, the CCP’s abuse of America’s academic system to steal sensitive research and technology, limit free expression, and propagandize our students is of particular concern. Confucius Institutes are one element of this threat to American academia,” they added.
According to Breitbart News, the warning about the rule repeal coming just a week after Biden took office was addressed by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
According to McCaul, “by quietly backing away from the proposed rule without consulting Congress, the Biden administration is sending a concerning signal about its scrutiny of CCP influence in academia, and telling academic institutions that they don’t need to be transparent about their ties to China’s regime.”
“It’s all the more disturbing because the education industry already fails to report billions of dollars of foreign gifts and contracts. I strongly urge the Biden Administration to stick to its promises to prioritize the CCP as our main national security challenge, including in the American education system,” added McCaul.