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Rep. Donna Shalala Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Limit Chinese Government Influence in Higher Education

Washington, DC - Today, Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL), alongside Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), introduced the Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States Act (CONFUCIUS Act), bipartisan legislation to address concerns about the Chinese government’s influence on college campuses.

Specifically, the bill would seek to limit the influence of Confucius Institutes – cultural and language exchange programs at American universities funded by the Chinese government – by barring Department of Education funds from going to any college or university that does not comply with the provisions of the bill. This would not include funding disbursed to students, such as Pell grants.

“Confucius Institutes are directly funded by the Communist Chinese government, which suppresses freedom of speech, academic freedom, and other democratic values,” said Congresswoman Shalala. “As an educator, I understand the importance of academic independence and integrity in our institutions of higher learning, but through Confucius Institutes, the Chinese government is often able to coerce schools to follow a pro-Chinese Communist Party approach. The CONFUCIUS Act will support important cultural exchange with China while strongly protecting the values of American public higher education that have made it the envy of the world.”

“I am proud to introduce the CONFUCIUS Act in the U.S. House of Representatives today alongside Congresswoman Shalala to protect American institutions of higher education from undue influence at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “The CCP has used these institutes to promote a pro-China image while actively working to steal American research and innovation and coerce our colleges and universities. It is time we hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their actions and work to protect American institutions of higher learning.”

If signed into law, the CONFUCIUS Act would seek to protect academic freedom and integrity at any U.S.  college or university hosting a Confucius Institute by:

  • Prohibiting federal government funding to colleges and universities that host Confucius Institutes not in compliance with the law;
  • Barring the application of any foreign law on any campus hosting a Confucius Institute;
  • Granting full managerial authority of the Confucius Institute to the college or university where it is located

The CONFUCIUS Act is the House companion to S. 939, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Kennedy and passed the Senate last month by unanimous consent. Many lawmakers, scholars, and college organizations have issued reports criticizing Confucius Institutes for their close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and have called for their removal from American college campuses.

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