Marco Rubio praises Miami-Dade College's move to close Confucius Institute

Miami Dade College officials decided in early September to cut ties with its Confucius Institute, a program that functions to integrate Western institutions with Chinese culture, but is funded by the Chinese state and has been accused of spreading Chinese propaganda.

MDC Interim President Rolando Montoya and College Provost Lenore Rodicio, who is the Chairman of the Confucius Institute Advisory Board, made the joint decision to split the Institute from the school, after a nearly 10-year partnership, reported The Reporter. Rodocio said he served as the chair so he was able to “see what’s going on in the center and ensure that what is happening here is non-contrary to the beliefs and opinions of this institution.” 

The enrollment in the program declined from 86 to 36 students during the past three years, according to school officials. The MDC Confucius Institute taught Mandarin, but the school will continue the education of the language through other avenues.

Montoya noted the closure of the Institute effective Dec. 20, 2019 in a letter to the Confucius Institute Headquarters.

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“I think the resources need to be reallocated to other programs that are serving a...larger number of students,” Montoya said in an interview with The Reporter.

But other college affiliates had different reasons for severing ties with the Institute.

“Ultimately, this is not a Democratic or Republic[an] issue, it is an issue of human and academic freedom,” MDC trustee Mercell Felipe, who also serves as president of Inspire America, told Campus Reform. “Great decision by President Montoya to smooth over the relationship with the community as he has been smoothing over within the MDC faculty and administration. Good leadership.”

Felipe suggested that severing ties with the Confucius Institute will help mend the relationship with communities who have suffered at the hands of communism, such as the Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans, who make up a large proportion of Miami’s population.

MDC has received backlash from various parties for allowing a partnership on campus that placed communist ideologies into higher education. Elected Florida officials have spoken out about the partnership between MDC and the Confucius Institute. In 2018, Sen. Marco Rubio reached out to the school and encouraged them to cease their programs with the Institute. 

“Great to hear [MDC] has ended its contract with the [Confucius Institute],” Rubio said in a tweet. “Great job by the Chairman [Bernie Navarro], the trustees & the new interim President. You made the right decision.”

[RELATED: Experts fear Confucius Institutes serve Chinese interests...but some colleges are keeping them]

“It is outrageous that Miami-Dade College has allowed such a dangerous organization to stay open and threaten students, despite clear warnings from the media, our federal government, Senate, and the Pentagon,” the Miami Young Republicans previously said in a July statement.

The Young Republicans also urged individuals to stand with victims of socialism and communism, like those in China fighting against the communist regime.

Montoya explained that although this decision was condoned by political figures, MDC closed the Institute for financial and operational reasons.

While on campus, the Institute received the 2015 Confucius Institute of the Year Award and donated a 500-pound bronze statue to MDC, also in 2015. The program hosted events like Chinese Culture Night and the Confucius Institute Cup during its near-decade on campus.

Florida now has zero colleges partnering with Confucius Institutes, according to The Reporter.

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