Seven top House Republicans announced a probe into Chinese influence at American universities Monday as China’s propaganda campaign to thwart global efforts combatting the novel Wuhan coronavirus has raised further scrutiny into China’s information warfare.
The smaller microscope placed on China’s covert operations have now prompted lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pivot their attention to China’s infiltration of U.S. academia, where the east Asian adversary has established Confucious Institutes acting as propaganda centers at American colleges.
“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,” an elite group of Republican House members who serve as ranking members on top committees wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “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… These actions all bring into question whether U.S. [institutes of higher education] receiving federal taxpayer dollars should be allowed to accept funds from China, the CCP, or other affiliated organizations.”
The Congressmen, led by the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, pointed to a 2018 report from the Hoover Institution identifying upwards of 110 Confucius Institutes operating on American colleges to facilitate China’s espionage and theft of intellectual property.
Many have begun to close down in the last year after President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act proposing an ultimatum to universities receiving financial assistance from the Pentagon: close the Chinese propaganda center on campus or lose funding from the Defense Department. At least 49 schools have since closed their Confucius Institute since the last bill was passed in August of 2018, according to Human Rights Watch.
Other members joining Jordan in the letter to DeVos include, Max Thornberry and Michael McCaul of Texas, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, and Devin Nunes of California.