The Biden administration withdrew a Trump-era order to track China’s influence on U.S. universities. Here’s why it matters.

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The Biden administration has quietly withdrawn a pending executive order from former President Donald Trump to track the influence of the Chinese Communist Party-linked Confucius Institute at universities and colleges across the U.S., which many are concerned will pave the way for further influence in these institutions from this major global adversary.

 

Quick Facts

 

 

The order was reversed along with 65 pending Trump executive orders the day he took office, many of which, the Washington Free Beacon noted, “deal with key national security and immigration matters.”

 

The White House has downplayed reversing the draft rule on the Confucius Institute, saying it and the other executive orders had not made it through the Office of Management and Budget review when White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain froze regulatory process, and so it was withdrawn, Yahoo News reported.

 

There is no indication, however, that the Biden administration has plans to resubmit it beyond a hollow and vague assurance from a U.S. State Department spokesperson that “when it comes to the Confucius Institutes, we have ongoing concerns about activities of the CCP [China’s Communist Party], including through these institutes, given that they might affect academic freedom in the United States.”

 

The rule, known as “Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms,” would have required 500 K-12 schools and 56 colleges in the U.S. to disclose financial ties to the controversial organization.

 

It didn’t help matters much that the reversal had come right on the heels of a call from CCP mouthpiece China Daily for Biden to reverse “Trump’s disastrous policies on China, such as the punitive tariffs, war on Chinese tech companies, and fearmongering of the Confucius Institute,” as the Federalist pointed out.

 

Moreover, this is not a good look for an administration already facing heavy scrutiny over the Biden family business ties in China and a policy platform that many are concerned will fail to check the growing influence of this rising superpower openly bent on global dominance.

 

The Confucius Institute claims to foster “public educational partnerships between colleges and universities in China and colleges and universities in other countries,” but lawmakers and Trump administration officials have drawn attention to the national security threat posed by its endeavors.

 

“[The Confucius Institute] is an entity controlled by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] that advances Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms,” then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in August 2020.

 

In 2019, a bipartisan report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations determined that the Chinese government “controls nearly every aspect” of the Confucius Institute, “pouring over $158 million into Confucius Institutes that spread Chinese influence while going largely unmonitored by the U.S. government,” which has “prompted espionage concerns and attracted significant interest from the FBI,” as NBC News reported at the time.

 

Interestingly, the same report pointed to Trump’s friendliness to Chinese President Xi Jinping at the time. Now, of course, it is the Biden administration that is being accused of bending to the CCP’s pressure to back off their mission to infiltrate American universities.

 

In response to the Biden move, Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement:

 

“By quietly backing away from the proposed rule without consulting Congress, the Biden administration is sending a concerning signal about its scrutiny of CCP influence in academia, and telling academic institutions that they don’t need to be transparent about their ties to China’s regime. It’s all the more disturbing because the education industry already fails to report billions of dollars of foreign gifts and contracts. I strongly urge the Biden Administration to stick to its promises to prioritize the CCP as our main national security challenge, including in the American education system.”

 

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also weighed in with concern. “For years, I have raised the alarm about the threat posed by Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes, and the FBI has warned that the Communist Party uses these entities to infiltrate American schools,” he told Inside the Ring, adding that President Trump had taken a “positive step” in requiring schools to “disclose their partnerships with these agents of Chinese government influence.”

 

He added, “That President Biden would undo this important action is deeply disturbing.”

 

And by reversing the rule, the senator charged, “the Biden administration is calling into question its stated commitment to maintain a policy that treats China as a strategic competitor and protects American interests and values from its malign influence.”

 

 

Not only are our universities a veritable playground for all manner of postmodern, anti-American ideology that is distinctly subversive to the most fundamental founding values of our constitutional republic, but the most powerful forces who have applied this godless ideology to governance recognize the value of such fertile ground in which to plant their seeds of influence.

 

Many of our nation’s top schools were founded by God-fearing Americans intent on providing the next generation of leaders with the tools they need to govern, minister to, and defend the citizens of a free republic.

 

It is a crude adulteration of this vision for our schools to host a state-backed propaganda endeavor of a government that denies the very deity that gives us our rights, to say nothing of the rights they crudely deprive from their own oppressed citizens.

 

The reality of life in Communist China should be a reminder to every single American as to why we need to call on our elected officials to fight harder to preserve our great republic, a goal that also requires schools and universities working to equip the next generation to participate in and protect a free American system.  

 

Instead, our schools are working closely with the CCP’s own foreign influence machine — and allowing China to dictate what the next generation of Americans believes about their own country.