Trump signs Confucius Institute funding ban

President Trump has signed the new National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision prohibiting funding to Chinese-run Confucius Institutes on American campuses.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that Trump plans to sign the bill Monday during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, according to Fox-28.

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In March, the Central Intelligence Agency issued a classified report labeling the institutes as a threat, according to an unclassified page of the document obtained by The Washington Free Beacon.

”The [Chinese Communist Party] provides ‘strings-attached’ funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light,” the unclassified portion of the report reads. “It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends.”

There are currently an estimated 107 Confucius Institutes in America, according to a list last updated in July by the National Association of Scholars (NAS).

NAS expressed its support in an article last week, calling Cruz’s amendment “a step toward incentivizing colleges and universities to part ways with Confucius Institutes,” though the organization noted that it would prefer if all colleges and universities “close their Confucius Institutes at once.” 

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Cruz had previously introduced a bill, the Stop Higher Education Espionage and Theft Act of 2018, that would have gone after “espionage” and “theft” in higher education by targeting Chinese Confucius Institutes in America.

“Communist China is infiltrating American universities to meddle with our curricula, silence criticism of their regime, and steal intellectual property including sensitive dual-use research,” Cruz told The Washington Post. “The Confucius Institutes are the velvet glove around the iron fist of their campaigns on our campuses.”

“The American government needs new tools to protect the integrity of our universities and research, and to block academic espionage,” Cruz added.

[RELATED: Lawmakers push bill to limit Chinese influence in higher ed]

This is not the first time a Texan has aired distaste for Confucius Institutes. In April, Texas A&M University closed its Confucius Institute after receiving pressure from two Texas Representatives, Henry Cuellar and Michael McCaul. 

Cuellar and McCaul wrote a joint letter to four Texas universities urging them to sever ties with the Chinese program that they believe is “spreading China’s political agenda, suppressing academic debate, and stealing vital academic research.” 

“These organizations are a threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda,” the letter urges. “We have a responsibility to uphold our American values of free expression, and to do whatever is necessary to counter any behavior that poses a threat to our democracy.”

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