On October 10, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a cautionary letter to the 77 American colleges and universities with an active Confucius Institute (CI), as per Politico’s “Morning Education” report.
In these letters, he cites NAS’s research and urges the schools’ presidents to “request and schedule a briefing with your local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office and become proactively involved in better understanding the national security threats posed by Confucius Institutes and the Chinese Government to our Nation’s academic and research institutions.” He goes on to explain the specific danger CIs pose to American institutions in light of their connection to Hanban, the Chinese Communist Party agency that is equal parts education and propaganda.
NAS echoes Senator Grassley’s exhortation and has done so for years. In our 2017 report Outsourced to China, Policy Director Rachelle Peterson details the myriad ways in which Confucius Institutes exert soft power in American higher education, including student surveillance and historical whitewashing. We have seen over 30 CIs close or announce their closing since the report’s launch, and hope that the others will follow suit.
Senator Grassley is not the first lawmaker to take notice—Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have also introduced measures to curb CIs’ influence on American colleges and universities. We encourage them to continue in their efforts and others to join them in challenging China’s foreign influence in American higher education.
Image: Gage Skidmore, Public Domain