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Indiana’s Attorney General Launches Probe Into Chinese Communist Party’s Domestic Propaganda Program
UNITED STATES - MARCH 17: Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center with members of the House Budget Committee to introduce the FY2016 budget resolution and discuss ways to balance the budget, March 17, 2015.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is expected to announce on Tuesday morning that he has launched an investigation into Valparaiso University’s association with the Confucius Institute, which is widely believed to serve as a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

Rokita’s office said in a statement that the investigation will “look into any possible violation of the Higher Education Act of 1965 or Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act” and seeks to identify and get to the bottom of “the true intent of any relationships between Valparaiso University’s programming and the Chinese Communist Party.”

Rokita’s office added:

The Chinese Communist Party has made no secret regarding the intent and purposes of Confucius Institutes embedded in American universities. In a 2010 People’s Daily article, Chinese “Minister of Propaganda” Liu Yunshan said these institutes exist to “coordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for us.” He goes on to say, “With regard to key issues that influence our sovereignty and safety, we should actively carry out international propaganda battles against issuers such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, human rights, and Falun Gong.”

These propaganda efforts are broadly referred to by China as the “United Front”. According to a report issued by the congressionally created United States – China Economic and Security Review Commission, “China uses what it calls ‘United Front’ work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party.”

The statement said that Valparaiso University has reported receiving more than $1 million from the Chinese government from 2010 to 2019 and that they have not disclosed how the money was used.

The statement added key findings from a 2019 report from the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the threat posed by Confucius Institutes and similar entities:

  • Chinese directors and teachers at Confucius Institutes pledge to protect Chinese national interests. Chinese teachers should “conscientiously safeguard national interests,” and their contract terminates if they “violate Chinese law” or “engage in activities detrimental to national interests.”
  • Since 2006, the Chinese government has provided more than $158 million to more than 100 U.S. schools for Confucius Institutes.
  • The Chinese Communist Party controls nearly every aspect of Confucius Institutes at U.S. schools, including its funding, staff, and all programming. It even has veto authority over events and speakers.
  • The Chinese government also funds teachers for Confucius Classrooms in the United States, which teach Chinese language and culture in K-12 schools. There are more than 1,000 Confucius Classrooms worldwide and more than 500 in the United States. Expanding the Confucius Classroom program is a priority for the Chinese Communist Party.
  • There is little transparency in the selection of Chinese directors and teachers who staff Confucius Institutes. They are vetted and hired by the Chinese government, and U.S. universities choose from a pool of applicants approved by the Chinese Communist Party.

“Our investigation seeks to uncover whether the Chinese government has attempted to exert political influence and manipulate the attitudes and beliefs of Hoosiers through their Confucius Institutes,” Rokita said in a statement. “Our office will use every tool at our disposal to protect Hoosiers and put liberty into action.”

CIA Director William Burns suggested earlier this year during his confirmation hearing that Confucius Institute programs should be banned from U.S. public schools and universities.

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