Republican Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks will introduce legislation Wednesday calling for colleges and universities to disclose any foreign influence.
The legislation, first obtained by the Daily Caller, requires colleges and universities to report any gifts from foreign countries and entities and for the schools to publicly disclose the names of all of their foreign donors. The bill also requires colleges and universities to list gift reasons and any gift conditions, as well as the department, college or project the money is supposed to go to.
The bill is titled the Zero Foreign Influence in Education Act and targets large donations from U.S. “geopolitical foes,” such as China. The bill points to Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which requires universities to report gifts or contracts greater than $250,000 in a calendar year. The bill states foreign adversaries work around this requirement by spacing out checks, or keeping them under $250,000 so the school doesn’t need to report it.
“The [Chinese government tries] to create an image of friendship when they’re quite clearly a geopolitical foe that hates our country’s system of government,” Brooks told the Daily Caller. “We are based on principles of democratic elections, and personal liberties and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Chinese Communist Party does not believe in any of those things and in fact, severely punishes people in China who cherish individual liberty or support democracy.”
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Brooks pointed to the presence of Confucius Institutes on college campuses as “the most glaring and egregious instance” of foreign government infiltration.
Lawmakers have criticized Confucius Institutes, which have ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as a source of Beijing’s soft power on campuses across the country. While the Confucius Institute claims to offer funding for language study and education on Chinese culture, they have also propagated China’s views on contentious topics such as Tibet and Taiwan. (RELATED: Confucius Institutes Have Been Rapidly Dissolving — Here Are The Dozens Still Left On American Campuses)
“These Confucius Institutes, according to the FBI and State Department, have on occasion been used to facilitate espionage against American interests by creating easier access points for communist Chinese spies in different parts of the U.S. generally, and in our universities where some of our best technological advances originate,” Brooks added.
Dozens of campus Confucius Institute chapters have closed following the federal government’s crackdown on Chinese government influence in the U.S. The Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Department of Homeland Security in December 2020 that would require schools and universities to disclose their partnerships with Confucius Institutes, but the Biden administration quietly withdrew the rule.
Several months earlier, the Trump administration announced it would designate the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission.
Brooks says that before the Trump administration, Section 117 had been unforced, allowing schools to accept billions in foreign funds.
The Education Department released a report in October showing the extent of funding from “foreign adversaries.” The report found that 12 schools, including multiple Ivy Leagues like Harvard and Yale, had financial dealings with Chinese tech company Huawei, which officials have determined to be a threat to U.S. national security. Since coming under scrutiny, the dozen schools disclosed a combined $6.5 billion in foreign funding that was previously unreported, according to the report.
The Trump administration’s crackdown on foreign influence on college campuses also included investigations into individuals with ties to the CCP. More than a dozen students, researchers, and professors were arrested between 2019 and 2020 on charges related to lying about ties with the Chinese government, often while accepting grants funded by U.S. taxpayers.