New York, NY; June 20, 2023 — On June 14, Alfred University confirmed that it will close its Confucius Institute (CI), an arm of Chinese soft power on American college and university campuses. The university announced the closure two weeks after the chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced an investigation into the school’s CCP relationships.
Alfred University is the recipient of millions of dollars in Department of Defense (DoD) grants, some of which focused on developing ceramic material for hypersonic missiles. The proximity of the university’s CI to such sensitive research was a cause of concern first discussed in a June 1 op-ed by National Association of Scholars (NAS) President Peter W. Wood and Senior Fellow for Foreign Affairs and Security Studies Ian Oxnevad in The Daily Signal.
“The Chinese Communist Party has spent millions of dollars and many years influencing American higher education to its benefit,” said Peter Wood. “The discovery by Ian Oxnevad that the Department of Defense was actively funding a sensitive project at Alfred, which hosted a Confucius Institute, set off alarm bells.”
The NAS first wrote about Confucius Institutes in a 2017 report, Outsourced to China, which examined China’s soft power influence in American higher education and data on funding, hiring, and academic freedom within CIs.
Alfred University first opened its Confucius Institute in 2009. The university also maintains a research contract with China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, which participates in classified People’s Liberation Army programs and research. In an attempt to combat Chinese espionage on campus, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2021. The bill prohibits institutions with CIs from receiving DoD funding. Many schools have closed their CIs in the years since, fearing the loss of lucrative DoD contracts. The NAS notes that 110 schools have closed or are in the process of closing their CIs, while 11 institutes remain open.
Oxnevad added, “There is no reason an American school should partner with the Chinese Communist Party as an excuse for foreign language education—especially if that institution receives funds from the Department of Defense. The closure of Alfred University’s Confucius Institute is a win for American national security. However, with this win, we are reminded of the many other colleges and universities that still host foreign-funded institutions, and the importance of transparency in foreign gifts, contracts, and partnerships.”
NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.
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