Press Release: Confucius Institutes Rebrand to Circumvent U.S. Policy, Report Finds

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY; June 21, 2022 — Colleges and universities continue to host Chinese-funded programs, similar to Confucius Institutes, under new names even after public and legislative scrutiny, concludes a new report from the National Association of Scholars.

After Confucius Institutes: China’s Enduring Influence on American Higher Education finds that Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes rapidly closed after state and federal officials found them to be sources of censorship, propaganda, and espionage. Of 118 Confucius Institutes in the United States, 104 have closed or are in the process of closing. But at least 64 colleges and universities have reopened a Confucius Institute-like program under a different name or maintained close relationships with the Chinese entities that cosponsored Confucius Institutes.

“Five years ago, with Outsourced to China, NAS detailed how the Chinese government uses Confucius Institutes as central nodes in its overseas influence campaign,” said Rachelle Peterson, senior research fellow at NAS and coauthor of After Confucius Institutes. “Now, we show that despite the demise of Confucius Institutes, colleges and universities have naively signed up for very similar programs under new names.”

“The Chinese government has executed an end-run of U.S. public policy,” said Ian Oxnevad, a program research associate at NAS and coauthor of After Confucius Institutes. “In the wake of laws targeting Confucius Institutes, the Chinese government has deftly reorganized its program.”

Flora Yan, a research associate and a coauthor of the report, noted that “the most popular reason colleges give for closing a Confucius Institute is to replace it with something else.”

After Confucius Institutes reports on every Confucius Institute in the country, including case studies of Arizona State University, Purdue University, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Washington. Online, at https://data.nas.org/confucius_institute_contracts, NAS also offers a database of documents regarding Confucius Institutes and their replacements.

Effective reform of American higher education by state legislatures and Congress is necessary to counter China’s long term influence operations. The report encourages reforming foreign gift reporting requirements, instituting new rules to make foreign funding less attractive, and simplifying Freedom of Information Act procedures.

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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If you would like more information, contact Chance Layton at [email protected]


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