The Confucius Institutes, funded by the Chinese government, are spreading propaganda across more than 100 college campuses across the country, a new Senate report has revealed.
Within the report, members of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that China has spent more than $150 million on the institutes over the last decade to limit criticism of its political policies in America.
China has opened more than 100 Confucius Institutes at various higher education institutes in the country, as well as marked its presence in many elementary, middle and high schools, according to the report.
“That level of access can stifle academic freedom and provide students and others exposed to Confucius Institute programming with an incomplete picture of Chinese government actions and policies that run counter to U.S. interests at home and abroad,” Senator Rob Portman, the subcommittee’s chairman, said.
The subcommittee’s probe lasted for eight months and found that the Chinese institutes threaten academic freedom by having access to the American educational system. Investigators also reported that many U.S schools failed to properly report the contributions they received from the Chinese government to fund the Confucius Institutes.
However, the subcommittee did not find a link between the institutes and espionage, something that has been a growing concern among a section of senators.
In March 2018, three Republican lawmakers introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, requiring the institutes to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
“Given what our country experienced during the 2016 election and what we’re preparing to grapple with in 2020, it is critical that we be vigilant in combatting foreign efforts to influence American public opinion,” Senator Tom Carper, the subcommittee’s senior Democrat, said.
Last year, many colleges across the country shut down the Confucius Institutes on their campuses, including the University of South Florida, the University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Chicago and the University of North Florida, among others.