May 11, 2021

Grassley: Cracking Down on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Propaganda

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Cracking Down on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Propaganda
Delivered on Monday, May 10, 2021
 
On March 10 of this year, I came to the floor to speak about my February 11, 2021, oversight letter to the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security.
 
That letter discussed the administration’s withdrawal of what’s been called the Confucius Rule.
 
That rule was a proposed Trump administration rule that would’ve required educational institutions to disclose their financial connections to the communist Chinese government, including its Confucius Institutes.
 
The substance of the rule is common sense especially in light of the clear propaganda threat the communist regime presents.
 
Why wouldn’t the Biden administration continue with it?
 
In my letter, I asked Secretary Mayorkas two very simple questions, among others:
 
Does the Biden Department of Homeland Security consider Confucius Institutes to be an extension of the communist Chinese government? If not, why not?
 
Does the Biden Department of Homeland Security consider Confucius Institutes to be purveyors of communist Chinese propaganda?  If not, why not?
 
When I took to the floor on March 10, the Biden administration had failed to respond.
 
As of today, still no response.
 
These are very easy questions for the Administration.
 
The failure to answer in light of the ongoing threat is very troubling.
 
Just the other week, the Justice Department indicted an American professor with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement for concealing support he received from the Chinese government.
 
During the course of my oversight activity, I’ve looked at both threats to taxpayer funded research and the threats that Confucius Institutes pose to our educational institutions.
 
Simply put, these are areas of real concern.
 
With respect to threats to taxpayer funded research, we must protect our intellectual property and research.
 
We spend billions of dollars and expend a great amount of effort to bring innovations to this country and the world. We must protect our American investments from Chinese espionage and theft.
 
Likewise, we must guard against the propaganda spread by Confucius Institutes, which are extensions of the communist regime.
 
One member of the communist regime said:
 
The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad. It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.
 
The Chinese Minister of Propaganda said to his fellow ministry workers:
 
Coordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for us…With regard to key issues that influence our sovereignty and safety, we should actively carry out international propaganda battles against issues such as Tibet, Taiwan, Human Rights... Our strategy is to proactively take our culture abroad…We should do well in establishing and operating overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes.
 
Yet, even with this clear threat, the Biden administration is silent on the proposed rule other than them getting caught retracting it.
 
What more does the Biden administration need to know before they get the picture?
 
Given the administration’s failure to act, I’ve introduced a bill – S. 1369 – that would make the rule a law.
 
My bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Blackburn, Tillis and Hawley, would require United States educational institutions to disclose their financial connections with the communist Chinese regime.
 
My bill would accomplish these measures by requiring schools to disclose those connections as part of their certification and recertification in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
 
That program provides approval to schools to enroll nonimmigrant students.
 
If the schools want visas for their foreign students, they’ll first have to disclose their ties to the Chinese government.
 
The centerpiece of this bill is disclosure and transparency.
 
As I’ve always said, transparency brings accountability.
 
We the People absolutely have a right to know if our educational institutions are tied to the hip with China, especially in light of that regime using money to gain leverage over many of them.
 
Which brings me to a greater point.
 
American educational institutions ought to stand up to the communist regime instead of doing their bidding for millions of dollars.
 
China is a national security threat. They’re a propaganda machine and will stop at nothing in their attempt to dominate the world.
 
It’s time for the Biden administration to step up to the plate and protect our American interests and American institutions.
 

I urge my colleagues to join my transparency bill.