The Biden administration quietly tossed a rule that would have required U.S. universities and public schools with foreign exchange programs to disclose any financial and/or educational ties to Chinese state-run Confucius Institutes.
President Joe Biden was quickly met with criticism from Republicans and intelligence officials who argued the Chinese Communist Party uses Confucius Institutes to flood the American educational system with communist propaganda.
“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,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
“It’s all the more disturbing because the education industry already fails to report billions of dollars of foreign gifts and contracts,” McCaul added.
Biden himself, and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, are both under scrutiny over $22 million in anonymous donations from Chinese entities to the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Ivy League school has stonewalled inquiries about the identities of the Chinese donors.
“Confucius Institutes are front groups for the Chinese Communist Party on American campuses,” said Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. “The federal government ought to shut down these regime-run institutes or, at a minimum, require colleges to disclose their secret agreements with them. Instead, the Biden administration is allowing a foreign influence operation to continue in the shadows.”
The Trump administration introduced the rule on New Year’s Eve.
But the Biden administration withdrew it on Jan. 26, before it could go into effect.
It would have required public universities and K-12 schools to report all ties to Chinese-funded academic institutions or lose foreign exchange program funding completely.
A report from McCaul’s office found that the CCP has used its Confucius Institutes to monitor students, direct interference with diplomats, and “force its views upon our institutions of higher learning.”
The Chinese Communist Party, the report added, “has used these institutes to promote an idyllic image while actively working to steal U.S. research and innovation and coerce colleges and universities.”
The Trump administration also found that American universities had failed to disclose more than $6.5 billion in funding and resources they had received from foreign sources, including China.
“The presence of an authoritarian slant in curriculum and teaching has never been more concerning, nor more consequential,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote in a report.