Scholars Call for Biden to Reinstate Transparency for Confucius Institutes

National Association of Scholars

New York, New York, February 11, 2021 – President Biden has quietly withdrawn a Trump Administration policy proposal that would have required all colleges and K-12 schools to disclose any contracts, partnerships, or financial transactions from Confucius Institutes or Confucius Classrooms. The rule, “Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms,” put forward by the Department of Homeland Security, would have made great strides for transparency in education and national security.

"Already President Biden has shown his willingness to tolerate Chinese government propaganda programs in American colleges and universities,” said National Association of Scholars (NAS) president Peter W. Wood. “By withdrawing basic transparency requirements, Biden is permitting American institutions to engage in secret, lucrative partnerships with the Chinese government. The American people deserve to know when foreign governments attempt to purchase influence over our colleges and universities.”

In 2017, NAS published Outsourced to China, a comprehensive report on how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses Confucius Institutes as one of its channels of influence in America’s colleges and universities. In the years since, America’s national security networks, Congress, and the American public have become more acutely aware of the threat posed by a geopolitical rival educating America’s youth and buying influence on campus.

Additionally, the Justice Department has made several arrests of academics who failed to disclose ties to China, including million-dollar contracts designed to transfer technology to the Chinese Communist Party. Other arrests have been of Chinese military officials posing as students at America’s universities.

Wood continued, “Our nation cannot tread lightly when dealing with an aggressive, powerful, and canny Chinese regime intent on weakening the American republic as it pursues a dream of hegemony. Americans need transparency. We must know precisely how China is funding our colleges and teaching our children, and which colleges China has in its pocket.”

Neither President Biden nor his administration have given a reason for the withdrawal of the proposed rule. The National Association of Scholars urges the Biden administration to re-initiate and complete the formal rulemaking process to ensure transparency.

NAS encourages all those concerned about foreign influence in both K-12 and higher education institutions to write to their members of Congress and the White House to voice their concern.

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 about this issue, please contact Chance Layton at [email protected].


Image: U.S. Department of State, Public Domain

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