Reps. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) have introduced a bill aimed to limit the influence of Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes on U.S. universities.
“Confucius Institutes are directly funded by the Communist Chinese government, which suppresses freedom of speech, academic freedom, and other democratic values,” Shalala stated in a July 14 press release.
“Through Confucius Institutes, the Chinese government is often able to coerce schools to follow a pro-Chinese Communist Party approach.”
The new bill, named Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States Act (CONFUCIUS Act), aims to protect academic freedom at U.S. universities that host the Chinese language and culture education programs.
Confucius Institutes are funded and overseen by a department within China’s central government and have in recent years garnered criticism for stifling free speech and promoting Beijing’s propaganda at academic institutions.
The bill proposes handing the full managerial authority of Confucius Institutes to their U.S. hosts, so the latter can decide what will be taught at these Chinese institutes.
It would also prohibit applications of any foreign law on campuses that host the institutes. An award-winning documentary called “In the Name of Confucius” illustrated the case of a Mandarin language teacher working at a Confucius Institute in Canada who was required to avoid certain topics such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre and toe the Party line when answering students’ questions.
Finally, it would ban federal funding to U.S. universities that host Confucius Institutes “not in compliance with the law.”