Ranking Republicans from seven different House committees are asking the Education Department to provide information about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) investment in American colleges and universities to advance its overseas interests.
In the wake of recent reports claiming Beijing is moving to suppress academic research into the origins of the virus that’s triggered a global pandemic, the lawmakers wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to “seek a better understanding” of her department’s efforts to address unreported foreign direct investment into American institutions of higher education (IHEs).
“For some time, we have been concerned about the potential for the Chinese government to use its strategic investments to turn American college campuses into indoctrination platform for American students,” they wrote in a letter on Monday, noting that Beijing-funded language and culture programs, particularly Confucius Institutes, provide the CCP with “a window into U.S. culture, infrastructure, and planning” as well as “a gathering ground for Chinese intelligence agencies.”
“These actions all bring into question whether U.S. IHEs receiving federal taxpayer dollars should be allowed to accept funds from China, the CCP, or other affiliated organizations,” the lawmakers wrote. “The interests of the two nations appear to have diverged.”
The lawmakers asked the Education Department, which has been investigating underreported foreign donations at U.S. schools, to provide by May 11 all information and communications between the department and IHEs under their probe as well as any preliminary findings and reports from schools that did not disclose information about foreign donations to the federal government. They also demanded a staff-level briefing before the given date.
The Education Department reported in February that an ongoing investigation revealed that at least ten American IHEs have failed to report $3.6 billion in foreign funding properly. The Department’s latest investigation involves the University of Texas, which reportedly has “substantial contractual relations” with an infectious-disease lab in the Chinese mega-city of Wuhan, where the CCP virus first emerged in December 2019.
The letter was signed by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of the Oversight Committee, Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) of the Education Committee, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) of the Armed Services Committee, Michael Rogers (R-Mich.) of the Homeland Security Committee, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) of the Technology Committee, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) of the Intelligence Committee, and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We cannot allow a dangerous communist regime to buy access to our institutions of higher education,” Jordan said in a statement. “The Chinese Communist Party’s coverup of the early outbreak of the coronavirus immeasurably worsened this disease’s impact on the United States and the world. We owe it to the American people to hold China accountable and to prevent them from doing further harm to our country.”