Universities in the U.S. have long been home to studies of other languages and cultures, but it’s becoming clear cultural exchange is not what the Chinese government had in mind by funding so-called “Confucius Institutes” on American campuses.
FBI director Christopher Wray recently testified that they exist “to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom, et cetera” as a platform for Chinese propaganda. There is a “fairly significant pattern of espionage” with their host colleges, Wray added.
Two bills have come up to combat Chinese influence at universities. Last year, Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Stop Higher Education Espionage and Theft Act, aimed at identifying foreign threats to American education and revoking their access.
In June this year, Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act, designed to increase financial disclosure requirements for foreign actors that fund activities on American campuses. It’s already receiving bipartisan support from Senators Diane Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen, John Cornyn, Todd Young, and Marco Rubio.