US colleges urged to confront China 'threat' amid coronavirus pandemic

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is sending a strong message to colleges that currently operate Confucius Institutes.

The Iowa lawmaker urged colleges to meet with the FBI about the "threat" these centers pose.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says Confucius Institutes on college campuses are nothing more than “fronts for Chinese propaganda.”

In a statement released amid a number of cases of coronavirus, the viral infection that originated in China, Grassley sent a message to the dozens of colleges and universities across the country that still have operating Confucius Institutes on their campuses. 

”Know who you’re dealing with,” Grassley said.

“U.S. Government agencies, including within the Intelligence Community, assert that the Communist Chinese Government uses Confucius Institutes embedded in our academic institutions as a propaganda tool within the United States. Despite these concerns, your institution’s website indicates that a Confucius Institute is active on your campus,” the Iowa senator said to colleges still with Confucius Institutes. 

[RELATED: INTERACTIVE MAP: Dozens of Confucius Institutes still operate across US]

But Grassley isn’t asking colleges to take just his word for it. He’s now urging colleges to hear from the FBI directly about this “threat.”

”To that end, meeting with federal law enforcement experts and receiving additional information from the FBI is imperative for a full understanding of the risks to both your institution and our national security,” Grassley said. 

Grassley sent this message via a letter to more than 70 colleges, universities, and school districts with known Confucius Institutes. Among the colleges that the letters were to were Columbia University, Emory University, George Washington University, Kennesaw State University, Rutgers University and the University of California-Los Angeles, among others. 

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

Grassley is not the only senator to take aim at Confucius Institute as the nation deals with what President Donald Trump calls the “Chinese  virus.” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) recently introduced legislation that would require more transparency for Confucius Institutes. 

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