Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kennedy introduces CONFUCIUS Act to fight Chinese Communist influence over free speech at U.S. colleges

“The Chinese Communist Party is directly controlling Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses. These institutes promote the CCP’s propaganda and suppress students’ academic liberty.”

WASHINGTON – Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States (CONFUCIUS) Act to prevent Chinese-backed Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses from suppressing students’ freedom of speech.

Confucius Institutes are education organizations funded and arranged by the People’s Republic of China. The institutes enroll more nine million students around the world, including many in the United States. They spread false narratives about historical events such as the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“The Chinese Communist Party is directly controlling Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses. These institutes promote the CCP’s propaganda and suppress students’ academic liberty. The CONFUCIUS Act would give American universities and schools control over these organizations so that campuses can safeguard our First Amendment rights and speak truthfully,” said Kennedy. 

Specifically, the CONFUCIUS Act would require Confucius Institutes to:

  • Protect academic freedom on the campus where the Confucius Institute is located,
  • Prohibit the application of any foreign law on any campus of the institution, and
  • Grant full control over what a Confucius Institute teaches, the activities it carries out, the research grants it gives and the individuals it employs to the college or university on which it is located.

This bill would prohibit federal government funding to colleges and universities that host Confucius Institutes and are not in compliance with the above provisions. The funding prohibition would only apply to funding directed to the college or university and would not include funding disbursed to students, such as Pell Grants.

The Senate passed the legislation unanimously in the 116th and 117th Congresses.

Background:

  • In May 2020, the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America wrote a joint letter calling for the “immediate and permanent closure of all Confucius Institutes in the United States” due to their “concerns over the present state of academic freedom” and “the continued exploitation of liberal, democratic academic institutions by authoritarians.”
  • These institutes can threaten universities by withholding funding in order to achieve their objectives, such as regulating speech the Chinese government opposes. Universities forced to choose between losing funding or upholding free speech are often tempted to yield to an institution funded by a foreign government over the interests of free speech. This allows foreign governments like China’s Communist Party to exert influence over American schools (such as prohibiting the Dalai Lama from speaking on a campus) and even to apply Chinese Communist laws on U.S. soil.

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) cosponsored the legislation.

The CONFUCIUS Act text is available here.

News and press releases and opinions from Louisiana United States Senators, Louisiana United States House of Representatives District 3, Louisiana Governor, Louisiana State Senators from Districts 22 and 23, and Louisiana State Representatives from Districts 43 and 49.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, content, information, and opinions provided by elected officials do not reflect the views, opinions, or endorsement of BY Local News LLC or its owner.

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