House Democrats revised a bill targetting universities that house Chinese government-funded “Confucius Institutes,” blocking the Department of Education’s ability to restrict their funding and curtail Chinese Communist Party influence on campus.
The bill, which unanimously passed in the Senate, included a provision that allowed the Department of Education to withhold funding from universities hosting Chinese government-backed Confucius Institutes.
The amended version, which passed Congress on December 11th, significantly neutered this provision. Now, only the Defense Department to withhold federal funding from universities.
According to a senior congressional aide, the amendment narrowed the bill to “safeguarding Defense-funded research activities instead of the broad range of protections the original bill contemplated.” This also would make it easier for Confucius Institutes to continue operating on the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
The Trump administration designated Confucius Institutes “foreign missions” in light of their Chinese government funding and dissemination of propaganda geared towards making students “advocate for the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Democrats, however, appear to feel otherwise, angering their Republican colleagues.
Senator John Kennedy, who helped write the anti-Confucius Institute measure, said Democrats “gutted” a key weapon to counter Chinese Communist Party influence in academia.
“Communist China is still buying influence on U.S. campuses, yet Democrats gutted a National Defense Authorization Act amendment that would protect academic freedom and give U.S. colleges control over what Confucius Institutes teach on our soil,” he added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy similarly blasted Democrats for failing to tackle the Chinese government.
“The changes to the Confucius Institute language in NDAA are another example of the Democrats’ China problem. Americans know a whole-of-society approach is needed to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s attacks on our democratic freedoms. We must take a comprehensive approach, especially drawing from the China Task Force’s recommendations, so that our solutions are not constrained in scope in this way,” he added.