News and Commentary

U.S. Universities Fail To Disclose Donations From Chinese Government

   DailyWire.com
Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) officers attend the flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square on the International Workers' Day on May 1, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service via Getty Images

More than 100 U.S. universities have failed to disclose foreign donations from the Chinese government, meaning the Chinese Communist Party has a bigger influence on our nation’s colleges and universities than we know.

An analysis from The Washington Free Beacon found that the more than 100 universities that currently host or have hosted Confucius Institutes, which are programs developed by the Chinese government to teach American students about Chinese culture and the language.

“The Department of Education requires all credentialed universities to disclose foreign gifts of more than $250,000, but only about 30 percent of institutions with Confucius Institutes have disclosed their financial ties to Beijing, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of federal records,” the outlet reported.

The Free Beacon reached out to the 75 institutions that had Confucius Institutes but did not report funding from the Chinese government. Twenty-two institutions replied, many of them saying they didn’t need to report because they received less than $250,000 from the Chinese government. In one example, a spokesman from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville told the outlet that they didn’t have to report its 2019 foreign donations “because it received only $246,711.”

The outlet spoke to Rachelle Peterson, director of Policy at the National Association of Scholars, who said the lack of transparency from these universities was “alarming.”

“It is extremely alarming how little transparency there is,” she told the Free Beacon. “$250,000 is much too high of a threshold. Gifts of money at much smaller amounts can be very swaying over a college or university, especially the humanities [departments] which traditionally have lower funding.”

More from the Free Beacon:

The Chinese government has funneled millions of dollars to American universities to support more than 100 Confucius Institutes across the country. Colleges such as the University of Michigan, University of Maryland, and Emory University, which did disclose funding, have received $30.4 million in total between 2014 and 2020 for their Confucius Institutes, according federal filings.

But experts warn that the widespread failure to report the foreign funding leaves millions of dollars worth of Chinese government funding in the dark.

Policymakers and education experts alike have long warned that Confucius Institutes might be a conduit for Chinese influence on American campuses that could restrict academic freedom and promote a distorted account of Chinese history and culture that favors the Chinese Communist Party. Senate and federal investigations have corroborated some of these concerns, finding that the Chinese regime directly hires teachers for the program and prohibits them from saying anything negative about China to students.

This analysis from the Free Beacon comes on the heels of an investigation into the National Institutes of Health, where 54 scientists have resigned or been fired for failing to disclose financial ties to foreign governments, mostly China.

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