In warning to 77 colleges and school districts, Sen Grassley details threats posed by Chinese influence

WASHINGTON DC (March 11, 2020) — Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley today issued a warning to all 77 colleges, universities and school districts with known active Confucius Institutes on campus: Know who you’re dealing with. Sen Grassley is urging each school to request an FBI briefing to fully understand the academic research and national-security threats posed by the Chinese government-backed organizations operating on campus.

“US Government agencies, including within the Intelligence Community, assert that the Communist Chinese Government uses Confucius Institutes embedded in our academic institutions as a propaganda tool within the United States. Despite these concerns, your institution’s website indicates that a Confucius Institute is active on your campus,” Sen Grassley wrote in a letter to leaders of each institution.

“To that end, meeting with federal law enforcement experts and receiving additional information from the FBI is imperative for a full understanding of the risks to both your institution and our national security.”

Confucius Institutes are billed as education centers for Chinese language and culture. However, federal authorities have warned that the institutes are designed to influence US policy and public opinion. The institutes are reportedly funded by the division of the Chinese government responsible for foreign influence operations, and the Chinese government has admitted that they are a part of China’s overall propaganda apparatus.

At a 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on China’s non-traditional espionage against the United States, FBI and Justice Department officials testified about threats posed to research labs and universities by researchers with “undisclosed ties to Chinese institutions and conflicted loyalties.” They also cautioned that China encourages theft of intellectual property from US institutions. A 2019 Finance Committee hearing focused specifically on the threats China poses to tax-payer-funded research. A FY2019 Defense Department funding bill prohibited federal funding from being used to support Confucius Institutes.

Sen Grassley also raised concerns about the Justice Department’s apparent failure to require Confucius Institutes to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Text of Sen Grassley’s letters to 77 colleges, universities and school districts is available below. Recipients of the letter include:

Alabama A&M

Alfred University

Auburn University at Montgomery

Baruch University

Binghamton University

Broward County Public Schools

Bryant University

Central Connecticut State University

Chicago Public Schools

China Institute

Cleveland State University

College of William and Mary

Colorado State University

Columbia University

Community College of Denver

Davis School District

East Central Ohio Educational Service Center

Emory University

George Mason University

George Washington University

Georgia State University

Houston Independent School District

Kansas State University

Kennesaw State University

Medgar Evers College

Miami University (Ohio)

Michigan State University

Middle Tennessee State University

New Jersey City University

Northwest Nazarene University

Old Dominion University

Pace University

Portland State University

Presbyterian College

Purdue University

Rutgers University

Savannah State University

Simpson County Schools

Southern Utah University

St. Cloud State University

Stanford University

State College of Optometry, State University of New York

State University of New York at Buffalo

Stony Brook University

Temple University

Texas Southern University

The State University of New York

The University of Akron

The University of California, Davis

The University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of Idaho

The University of Memphis

The University of Oklahoma

The University of South Carolina

The University of Southern Maine

The University of Texas at Dallas

The University of Toledo

The University of Utah

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Troy University

Tufts University

University at Albany, State University of New York

University of Alaska Anchorage

University of Central Arkansas

University of Kentucky

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of New Hampshire

University of North Carolina Charlotte

University of Pittsburgh

Valparaiso University

Wayne State University

Webster University

Wesleyan College

West Virginia University

Western Michigan University

Xavier University of Louisiana

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