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Top House Republicans Announce Probe Into Chinese Efforts to Infiltrate U.S. Colleges

May 4, 2020
Press Release

Today, the top Republicans from seven different House committees — led by Oversight Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) — sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking for information about the Chinese Communist Party’s investment in American colleges and universities to further its strategic and propaganda goals.

What the letter says:

“China has strategically invested in U.S. academia to attempt to steal confidential information and technology from U.S. companies, and even the U.S. government. Besides China peddling money for influence in U.S. institutions of higher education (IHE), China is restricting any research regarding the origins of COVID-19 that does not comport with CCP propaganda. To nations battling peak pandemic outbreaks, the CCP’s machinations undoubtably hamper the global response to the pandemic.”

“For some time, we have been concerned about the potential for the Chinese government to use its strategic investments to turn American college campuses into indoctrination platforms for American students. For example, a 2018 Hoover Institution report notes the presence of some 110 ‘Confucius Institutes’ on college campuses as well as over 500 “Confucius Classrooms” in secondary schools. While the stated mission of such institutes and classrooms is to teach Chinese language and culture, the report notes, ‘faculty and other watchdogs have warned that they may present risks to intellectual freedom by using American universities as vehicles through which to advance Chinese Communist Party propaganda.’”

“These actions all bring into question whether U.S. IHEs receiving federal taxpayer dollars should be allowed to accept funds from China, the CCP, or other affiliated organizations. The interests of the two nations appear to have diverged.”

Read the full text of the letter here.

House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan was  joined on the letter by the following top House Committee Republicans:

  • Virginia Foxx, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and Labor

  • Mac Thornberry, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee

  • Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security

  • Frank Lucas, ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

  • Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

  • Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

What the signers are saying:

Ranking Member Jim Jordan: “We  cannot allow a dangerous communist regime to buy access to our institutions of higher education, plain and simple. The Chinese Communist Party’s coverup of the early outbreak of the coronavirus immeasurably worsened this disease’s impact on the United States and the world. We owe it to the American people to hold China accountable and to prevent them from doing further harm to our country.”

Ranking member Virginia Foxx: “China’s lack of transparency and accountability for the global spread of the novel coronavirus has devastated communities, businesses, and schools across the world, including our institutions of higher education. Unsurprisingly, China is now attempting to suppress academic research into the origins of the pandemic. This is unacceptable. These strategic and disreputable acts from the Chinese Communist Party have proven to be commonplace and it is time for institutions of higher education to acknowledge how much money they accept from foreign actors. We must work together to protect our national interests by significantly reducing our universities’ reliance on investments from adversarial foreign entities.”

Ranking Member Mac Thornberry: “China’s strategic investment in our institutions of higher learning has long been a concern. This is especially true where China appears to be targeting institutions doing research with the Department of Defense in an effort to obtain sensitive information.”

Ranking Member Mike Rogers: “I’m grateful for the leadership of Ranking Member Jordan on this issue,” Rogers said. “It’s imperative we get a complete understanding of the depth of foreign influence in our higher education institutions. China has shown they will stop at nothing to push their narratives and silence those who speak out against them. They are not good faith partners with the U.S., and we cannot allow them to influence or have access to our higher education.”

Ranking Member Frank Lucas: “If China surpasses us in critical innovations like quantum information science, artificial intelligence, and advanced manufacturing it will have significant implications for our national security, for our economic competitiveness, and for our way of life. We’re working with universities and federal agencies to protect our academic research enterprise so we can continue to maintain America’s scientific and technological leadership.”

Background:

  • The FBI has warned that some adversarial countries such as China strategically invest in IHEs and researchers that also receive Defense Department grants in an attempt to steal sensitive U.S. military secrets and technology.

  • The Justice Department recently announced the arrest of a Harvard University professor who specialized in nanoscience along with two Chinese nationals in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China.

  • The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires U.S. IHEs to disclose gifts from foreign sources. Specifically, section 117 of the Act requires that “whenever any institution . . . receives a gift from or enters into a contract with a foreign source, the value of which is $250,000 or more, the institution shall file a disclosure report.” As the letter details, the Department of Education has opened investigations into multiple universities for potentially improperly reporting foreign gifts or for failing to report altogether.

  • Liu Yunshan, the former Head of Central Propaganda Department of China, pointed to the proliferation of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in 2010 as part of a plan to “coordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for [China].”

  • House Oversight Committee have already taken steps to investigate China’s role in exacerbating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact United States. Last week, Ranking Member Jordan and along with 5 subcommittee ranking members called on Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney to join Republicans’ efforts to hold the World Health Organization accountable for parroting the regime’s propaganda.

116th Congress