Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) proposed a measure on Feb. 23 that would block federal funding for U.S. colleges and universities that have links with the Chinese regime, a move she says will combat efforts by the regime in Beijing to “undermine” the United States.
The legislation, named the “End College Chinese Communist Partnerships Act,” would halt taxpayer funds from going to institutions that have partnerships with Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes (CI) and the People’s Republic of China.
Under the bill, all U.S. colleges and universities that have “a contractual partnership in effect with an entity that is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, or organized under the laws of the People’s Republic of China,” will have federal funding blocked, Fox News reported.
The legislation exempts funds from the Department of Education that are provided directly to students.
CIs bill themselves as places to learn Mandarin, study Chinese culture, and land a scholarship. They’re funded and largely staffed by Hanban, a nonprofit that claims to be non-governmental, but is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to a report by the Senate Homeland Security committee’s investigations subcommittee (pdf).
The institutes came under intense scrutiny from U.S. officials under the Trump administration over concern that they spread Chinese propaganda, restrict academic freedom, and facilitate espionage in U.S. classrooms.
On Dec. 31, 2020, the Trump administration submitted a proposal, named “Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms,” that sought to ensure colleges and K–12 schools that are certified to host foreign exchange programs disclose their financial ties to CIs and the affiliated Confucius Classrooms.
However, that proposal was quietly scrapped by the Biden administration on Jan. 26, according to the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is a division of the White House’s budget office.
Stefanik on Feb. 23 accused House Democrats of being “weak on China,” adding on Twitter that she will “always be STRONG for America!”
The Chinese regime has “been engaged in a sustained effort to undermine all facets of American power through influence campaigns within the United States,” and has “engaged in the theft of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property and academic and scientific research on college campuses, within national labs, and within the private sector,” the legislation states, according to Fox News.
The legislation notes the CCP’s attempts to recruit Chinese Americans and ethnic Chinese on U.S. soil “for intelligence collection and coercion to advance the CCP ideology and agenda.”
Separately on Feb. 23, Stefanik co-sponsored a bill, named the “Opposing Business with Chinese Military Companies Act,” which would ensure that any and all companies affiliated with, or operated on behalf of the Chinese military, are made public and sanctioned.
“As we know, the Chinese military is engaged in hostile actions against the United States and a genocide of ethnic minorities,” a release states, referring to the human rights abuses being committed against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
“Despite President Biden and the Democrats’ soft approach towards China, I will continue to propose and support legislation that strongly combats their malign, anti-American behavior, and advances the interests of the United States at home and abroad,” Stefanik added in a statement.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.