Monday, December 4, 2023

Republicans Press Biden Admin to Address Chinese Influence in US Colleges

'Styled as a language and culture program, Confucius Classrooms are in reality an important element of the PRC’s global influence campaign...'

House Republicans demanded that the Biden Education Department confirm whether it will enforce a law requiring universities to disclose foreign funding.

Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona this week, following a recent report that the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center has received millions of dollars from China.

They asked Cardona whether his department understands Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, “which requires higher education institutions to disclose large gifts and contracts from overseas sources to the Department.”

“Information about these financial arrangements gives both Congress and the federal government valuable insight into possible security risks and conflicts of interest posed by foreign governments’ financial ties to U.S. colleges and universities,” Banks and Foxx wrote.

“The FBI warned colleges a decade ago about how hostile actors use campuses for spying, propaganda hubs, and faculty recruitment,” they added. “Unfortunately, too many institutions failed to take this warning seriously.”

Biden’s Education Department has closed several of the investigations into foreign funding on college campuses that were launched by the Trump administration, and it has shown no sign of providing “status updates on any other investigations into foreign gifts or contracts,” the Republican lawmakers wrote.

“We are concerned by these facts, considering it was conveyed to Congress that career civil servants at the Department and other agencies were supportive of Section 117 compliance and oversight,” they said.

The Republicans’ letter follows a report that the Penn Biden Center, a policy institute Biden launched in 2017, received more than $72 million from China since it opened.

Much of that funding occurred on the watch of current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was the center’s managing director while his longtime boss, Biden, was out of public office during the Trump administration.

Foxx previously called on University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann to disclose records related to the surge in foreign donations, calling it a matter of national interest.

“Understanding whether the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement received funds from China or other adversarial nations at the behest of the Biden family or future Biden Administration officials will shed light on the depth and breadth of the potential improper influence these nations enjoy over the Biden family,” Foxx wrote in a letter along with Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and former education secretary Betsy DeVos warned universities that they are being targeted by the Chinese Community Party’s influence operations through donations and the presence of Confucius Institutes on campus. These institutes allow the CCP to send its propaganda directly into American classrooms, they said.

“Styled as a language and culture program, Confucius Classrooms are in reality an important element of the PRC’s global influence campaign, now reaching tens of thousands of U.S. schoolchildren every day,” Pompeo and DeVos explained.

DeVos’s Education Department also cracked down on universities that didn’t disclose foreign funding.

A report released by her department revealed that, since 2010, colleges and universities have “hidden the true source” of nearly $600 million in foreign money from China.

Some of the schools involved in this scandal included: Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Rutgers University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Texas, Case Western Reserve University, Stanford University and Fordham University.

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