House Republicans are conducting an investigation into the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at American universities.
Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) took the lead writing a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dated Feb. 3, demanding answers about DOD funding for schools with Confucius Institutes (CI) or other CCP-linked entities.
“As you are aware, Congress has long been concerned with the influence and infiltration of Confucius Institutes on the campuses of American IHEs,” the lawmakers’ letter stated. “According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Confucius Institutes ‘advance Beijing’s preferred narrative and subvert important academic principles such as institutional autonomy and academic freedom.'”
The letter cited the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDA) that prohibits the DOD from funding Chinese language instruction provided by a Confucius Institute, starting in October of 2023. The letter also asserted that the Confucious Institute has found ways around the law. And its parent organization, the Office of Chinese Language Council International (otherwise known as Hanban), has rebranded itself as the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF) and now funds and oversees Confucius Institutes and other reconstituted programs and institutes.
According to the lawmakers’ letters, the DOD has awarded funding under contract to institutions affiliated with the newly rebranded groups, which they assert is a violation of the law if extended past Oct. 1 of this year.
A report from June 2022 warned that China was rebranding its Confucius Institutes in U.S. universities, as The Epoch Times previously outlined. Out of the 118 CIs in the United States, about 105 had been closed or announced closures. However, at least 38 colleges have replaced their closed CI programs with similar alternatives, according to the report by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative research and advocacy organization.
The Epoch Times’s Venus Upadhayaya offered an analysis of Communist China’s plan to infiltrate American college campuses, saying that the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes has been criticized for spreading CCP propaganda and stifling academic freedom. The same campuses that host the institute received nearly $1.5 billion in gifts and contracts from China from 2014 to 2020.
“The CCP sees the openness of our leading universities as a weapon that it can turn against us,” John Metz, president of the Athenai Institute, a student-founded nonprofit focused on removing CCP influence from college campuses, told The Epoch Times.
“It aims to use espionage and its financial influence over universities not only to control discourse and censor its critics, but also to acquire the advanced technology it needs to expand its military might and further its genocidal policies.”