The Department of Defense (DoD) should stop continued funding of universities with Confucius Institutes, according to a recent letter sent to the DoD by U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and 25 House Republicans last week.

According to the letter, Congress passed two measures in recent National Defense Authorization Acts in fiscal years 2019 and 2021 that prohibit DoD funding going to “Chinese language instruction provided by a Confucius Institute” and any university that hosts a Confucius Institute after October 1.

“We write to you to re-emphasize our concerns about the subversive activities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) within American institutions of higher education (IHE),” Aderholt and 25 House Republicans said in the letter. “As you are aware, Congress has long been concerned with the influence and infiltration of Confucius Institutes on the campuses of American IHEs. According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Confucius Institutes ‘advance Beijing’s preferred narrative and subvert important academic principles such as institutional autonomy and academic freedom.’”

Confucius Institutes are public educational institutions with the express purpose of promoting Chinese culture and language. They have been criticized for their affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party.

Confucius Institutes are on college campuses around the world. They provide teachers, textbooks and operating funds and, according to the National Association of Scholars (NAS), “undermine academic integrity and promote censorship.”

The Trump administration declared Confucius Institutes a foreign mission of the Chinese Communist Party in 2018.

There are 18 Confucius Institutes in the United States as of June 2022. Two were in Alabama: one at Alabama A&M in Huntsville and another at Troy University.

Alabama A&M’s Confucius Institute announced its intention to close in 2021 after the Defense Department refused to provide contracts, grants and other funds to universities with Confucius Institutes as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. Troy's Confucius Institute is still active.

“Yet, your department has awarded funding with contractual obligations to these institutions in question extending beyond the October 1, 2023 deadline and in violation of the law,” the House Republicans said in the letter.

According to the National Association of Scholars, at least 28 universities have replaced the Confucius Institute with a similar program and 58 have maintained a partnership with a PRC university reached as a part of an agreement with a Confucius Institute.

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