US Senate approves bill to tighten controls on China-funded Confucius Institutes: Report

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Washington DC [US], March 11 (ANI): The US Senate had last week unanimously approved a bill that would increase oversight on Confucius Institutes, China-funded cultural centers that operate on university campuses in the country.

As per CNBC, the bill was approved on March 3.

Citing Human Rights Watch, CNBC reported that Confucius Institutes "are Chinese government-funded outposts that offer Chinese language and culture classes".

"Confucius Institutes are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party in all but name," said Senator John Kennedy, who introduced the bill.

"This bill would give colleges and universities full control over their resident Confucius Institutes and restore freedom of thought on their campuses," he added.

In 2020, Senator Marsha Blackburn had introduced a similar bill. Senator Marco Rubio, one of that bill's co-sponsors, said, "For far too long, the Communist Chinese government has attempted to infiltrate American universities through the disguise of the government-run Confucius Institute."

The bill, approved by the Senate on March 3, would cut federal funding to universities and colleges that have Confucius Institutes on campus that don't comply with new oversight rules and regulations, the report said.

The bill will next be sent to the House for consideration.

Congress' 2019 annual defense spending package severely limited the autonomy of these China-funded cultural centers by threatening to withhold language program funding from their host universities, Human Rights Watch reported.

It further reported that, in turn, nearly 22 Confucius Institutes have been closed since the act's passage.

The University of Missouri closed its Confucius Institute last year, after a notice from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs regarding visa concerns, amid former US president Donald Trump's administration drive to shutter the institutions, said the report.

Long before the lawmakers raised alarms, university professors signalled problems with the institutes.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), released a report in 2014 that recommended colleges take a deeper look at curricula and agendas brought forth in the classroom, CNBC reported.

It further reported that "Confucius Institutes function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom," the statement said, also highlighting a lack of transparency.

"Most agreements establishing Confucius Institutes feature nondisclosure clauses and unacceptable concessions to the political aims and practices of the government of China." (ANI)