NAICU Washington Update

Colleges with Confucius Institutes Face Possible Funding Limits

December 17, 2020

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which specifies the annual budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense, includes language limiting defense funds to colleges and universities that host a Confucius Institute.  An institution, however, can be exempt from a penalty if it is granted a waiver by the Secretary of Defense. 

To be considered for a waiver, a college or university must assure the Department that its agreement with the Confucius Institute will: 
  • Protect academic freedom at the institution;
  • Prohibit the application of any foreign law on any campus of the institution; 
  • Grant full managerial authority of the Confucius Institute to the institution, including full control over what is being taught, the activities carried out, the research grants that are made, and who is employed at the Confucius Institute; and
  • Engage with the Academic Liaison Officer, and take appropriate measures to safeguard defense-funded fundamental research activities.”
The bill also creates a new Academic Liaison in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to coordinate the waiver process and maintain relationships with colleges and universities. 

At the same time the Trump Administration has had concerns about foreign influence on college campuses, and throughout society, Confucius Institutes on college campuses in the U.S. have been closing, with only 58 currently in operation. After China started the establishment of Confucius Institutes worldwide in 2004, they grew to a total of 112 programs at U. S. colleges by 2017. 

While the bill has been passed by Congress, the President is threatening a veto for reasons unrelated to the Confucius Institute provision.

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