The Biden administration secretly assists Confucius Institutes at American universities in finding a means to circumvent a ban on federal support for such programs.
Even though the Confucius Institute is a Chinese Communist Party-backed organization that Beijing uses to hawk influence and steal intellectual property from American institutions, Biden’s Defense Department announced in late March that it would issue waivers to allow schools to host Confucius Institutes chapters. The agency has devised a waiver program in light of the 2021 NDAA’s prohibition on federal support for institutions housing Confucius Institute chapters.
Members of Congress have claimed that the Department of Defense’s activities violate the law.
The intelligence community’s concerns that American institutions are an easy target for Chinese spies motivated them to find this solution. Since 2008, China has invested roughly $158 million and opened more than 100 Confucius Institutes in the United States. The FBI and other US law enforcement agencies have long voiced worries that these facilities represent an espionage risk since they are ultimately subservient to the Chinese government.
Universities in the United States are reluctant to cut relations with their Confucius Institutes out of fear of losing the $426 million that China has funded in American higher education since 2011. The vast majority of this funding comes from private donors to various academic institutions.
The goal of the Confucius Institute is to foster international understanding through the study of Chinese language and culture. Several lawmakers have voiced concern that these regulations stifle free speech on campus by prohibiting debate on political issues and discussions of sensitive subjects like Taiwan and Tibet.
Because of their “confidential contracts with U.S. universities that forbid activities that violate Chinese law,” the CCP’s overseas branches are difficult to monitor.
The Justice Department has warned at least 60 prestigious universities, stating that they may be the target of Chinese espionage.
Banks says his committee is “working overtime” to stop the waiver scheme and beat the president at his own game of oversight whack-a-mole, who is hiding China’s activities from the public.