The U.S. Department of State is now requesting that any think tanks working with the department disclose prominent funding they receive from foreign governments.
“To protect the integrity of our relationships with think tanks and related institutions we’re taking a simple step to encourage transparency: think tanks that wish to engage with the @StateDept should disclose funding they receive from foreign governments,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted.
To protect the integrity of our relationships with think tanks and related institutions we're taking a simple step to encourage transparency: think tanks that wish to engage with the @StateDept should disclose funding they receive from foreign governments. https://t.co/TRdy7cvMMM
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) October 13, 2020
While the statement claims the department values the relationships with “academic community, think tanks, and various external sources of expertise in foreign affairs,” it also claims that those relationships are at risk of foreign influence from countries such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation.
“We hope one day soon that U.S. efforts to promote free and open dialogue about economic and personal liberty, equal citizenship, the rule of law, and authentic civil society, will be possible in places such as China and Russia,” the statement said.
Because of this vulnerability, the State Department is asking that any foreign policy organizations involved with the department to publicly display any funding from other governments on their websites.
“The unique role of think tanks in the conduct of foreign affairs makes transparency regarding foreign funding more important than ever. To protect the integrity of civil society institutions, the Department requests henceforth that think tanks and other foreign policy organizations that wish to engage with the Department disclose prominently on their websites funding they receive from foreign governments, including state-owned or state-operated subsidiary entities,” the statement explains.
While the State Department clarifies that this disclosure will not be a requisite for a working relationship, the statement clearly conveys that a lack of disclosure will play a part in the use of any information provided by think tanks reluctant to publish their funding information.
“Disclosure is not a requirement for engaging with such entities. Department staff will, however, be mindful of whether disclosure has been made and of specific funding sources that are disclosed when determining whether and how to engage,” the statement says.
This request comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Trump Administration continues to crack down on foreign influence, especially from China, in the U.S. government and politics.
“There is a bipartisan consensus in Washington of the challenges from the Chinese Communist Party. I say that because what the Trump administration has tried to do is, is for the first time take on this challenge in a serious way,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo recently warned state legislators in Wisconsin against China’s attempts to infiltrate local and state institutions, urging them to remain cautious and alert.