Lawmakers want DoD to cut ties with Confucius Institutes

Alexa Schwerha, Campus Reform

  • Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Defense demanding details on severing ties with China-influenced Confucius Institutes.

  • Universities were supposed to shut down Confucius Institutes by October 2023.

The Department of Defense (DoD) may be funding universities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party despite a 2021 law requiring schools to shutter by 2023.

Section 1062 of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act defines Confucius Institutes as “a cultural institute directly or indirectly funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”

The concerns were brought forward by 57 Republican lawmakers in a July 25 letter to the DoD led by Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, arguing that affiliation with the CCP is counter to national security interests.

“[W]e are concerned that the universities have not addressed the concerns about Confucius Institutes and similar programs identified by Congress,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are also concerned about how DoD is preparing to meet its deadlines that would require it to cut off funding to these institutes.”

The Republicans allege that Chinese influence in higher education poses a national security risk and accused Confucius Institute programs of having an influence and ability to infiltrate higher education. The congressmen argue this puts academic freedom and illicit technology transfers at risk.

While universities may be terminating Confucius Institutes on campus, a National Association of Scholars report found that the main reason schools cited for closing the Institutes was to begin a similar program, under a different name, influenced by the Chinese government.

Of the 75 schools that reportedly ended Confucius Institutes, 28 implemented a similar program, 58 maintained a partnership with the Institute, and 5 simply relocated the program.

According to the letter from Republican lawmakers, the DoD allocated funding to such universities through 2023.

“[W]e have learned that DoD has awarded funding with contractual periods extending beyond October 1, 2023 to some universities, including a number of major state universities, which have replaced their Confucius Institute with a similar program or institute directly or indirectly funded, or materially supported by the PRC government,” the letter reads.

A Defense Press Operations Duty Officer confirmed to Campus Reform that the department will “respond directly to the authors of the letter.” The representatives set an August 15 deadline.

Campus Reform contacted the DoD and Banks for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow @AlexaSchwerha1 on Twitter

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