GOP lawmakers call out Biden for withdrawing from Trump plan to counter China’s influence in U.S. institutions

The Biden administration quietly withdrew a rule, proposed by the Trump administration, that would have required schools and universities in the United States to report their relationships with Confucius Institutes.

Many GOP lawmakers are concerned that the Biden administration is allowing a foreign influence to operate in the U.S.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-AR, released a statement Tuesday condemning the Confucius Institute rule reversal.

“Confucius Institutes are front groups for the Chinese Communist Party on American campuses. The federal government ought to shut down these regime-run institutes or, at a minimum, require colleges to disclose their secret agreements with them. Instead, the Biden administration is allowing a foreign influence operation to continue in the shadows,” Cotton said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, tweeted Tuesday, “FBI has warned about #China’s Communist Party using #ConfuciusInstitute to infiltrate American schools. But now Biden quietly withdrawn rule proposed by Trump admin to require schools & universities to disclose their partnerships with these agents of Chinese govt influence.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, called Biden’s decision “not only short-sighted & harmful – it decreases transparency in our education system & emboldens the CCP.”

Confucius Institutes are public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries. They are funded by the Chinese government.

Around 500 K-12 schools and 65 colleges in the U.S. have partnerships with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center.

The Trump administration had concerns that the Chinese Communist Party was using American university campuses to engage in espionage, spread propaganda and promote censorship.

The Trump administration’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said in August that the Confucius Institute was “an entity controlled by the PRC that advances Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on US campuses and K-12 classrooms.”

The Trump administration began requiring Confucius Institutes to register as foreign missions. The Confucius Institute U.S. Center had to regularly provide information to the State Department about its personnel, recruiting, funding and operations in the United States.

The Daily Caller reported that the Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 31, 2020, titled ‘Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms.’

The proposal was withdrawn from consideration on Jan. 26, 2020, according to The Daily Caller.

The Confucius Institute U.S. Center has not commented on the issue.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy