Many of America’s leading universities failed to disclose funding from the Chinese government to the Department of Education, reigniting concerns about the communist regime’s expanding influence on campuses across the country.
According to the Washington Free Beacon’s review of federal records, only 30 percent of colleges that host or have hosted Chinese-financed Confucius Institutes have disclosed their financial ties to Beijing.
Confucius Institutes are programs underwritten by China’s government with the declared aim of teaching Chinese culture and language to American learners.
After reaching out to all 75 institutions that have not reported the funding to the Department of Education, the Free Beacon received replies from only 22. One of the most prevalent responses was that the universities refrained from disclosing the donations because their annual receipts fell below the $250,000 threshold.
In one example, a representative from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville said the college felt it did not have to file a report for 2019 Confucius Institute funding because those donations totaled $246,711 — more than $3,000 short of the threshold.
Rachelle Peterson, who oversees policy at the National Association of Scholars, called the lack of accountability “alarming.”
“It is extremely alarming how little transparency there is,” she said. “$250,000 is much too high of a threshold. Gifts of money at much smaller amounts can be very swaying over a college or university, especially the humanities [departments] which traditionally have lower funding.”
The amount of money the Chinese government has poured into American universities totals millions of dollars, spread across more than 100 Confucius Institutes throughout the nation. Among those that have disclosed their donations are the University of Michigan, University of Maryland, and Emory University, which together have taken in $30.4 million through the program between 2014 and 2020.
Some policy and education experts fear the Confucius Institutes could serve as a way for China’s government to gain control of American campuses while indoctrinating students with a slanted version of history that favors the Chinese Communist Party.
“The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t need to seek the consent of the governed,” says Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “And [they] are very used to — within the context of China — being able to censor debate. They want to do the same thing in the United States through different means, and the Confucius Institutes are one of the ways in which it does it.”
The Chinese government nearly always pays the universities that host Confucius Institutes, though some exceptions do exist. According to a 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service, Hanban — a public institution aligned with the Chinese Ministry of Education — usually gives colleges a $150,000 start-up fund, along with $100,000 to $200,000 per year to cover operation costs.
Comparing the Department of Education’s foreign donations list to the National Association of Scholars’ list of all Confucius Institutes in the United States shows that 108 American institutions of higher learning currently or previously hosted Confucius Institutes.
Out of that number, a mere 33 have reported any funding from the program in the last six years. Among those that have not turned in reports are Columbia University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.
The Chinese infiltration of American schools has been a growing concern. The Trump administration launched an investigation of Harvard and Yale for their foreign funding. The White House maintains that Yale has not reported, at minimum, $375 million in foreign funding after failing to file reports for three years from 2014-2017.
In addition to documentation on China and Saudi Arabia, both schools have been asked to provide documentation on gifts and donations from Iran, Qatar, and Russia.
Such efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Colleges have retroactively disclosed $6.5 billion in previously unreported foreign funding from Chinese and Middle Eastern sources, according to a department letter to House Republicans. Six universities, including the University of Nebraska and West Virginia University, disclosed almost $3 million in previously unreported Confucius Institute funding in the most recent foreign gift and contract report.
Confucius Institutes have received pushback from students. Activists supported by hundreds of College Democrats and College Republicans chapters created the Athenai Institute in May to call for the “immediate and permanent closure of all Confucius Institutes in the United States” and a “complete disclosure of university ties to communist China.”
“The Chinese government’s flagrant attempts to coerce and control discourse at universities in the United States and around the world pose an existential threat to academic freedom as we know it. It is a civic and moral imperative that we protect that freedom,” the Athenai Institute said in a statement.
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Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.