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Biden quietly scraps Trump plan for US schools to disclose agreements with China-backed Confucius Institutes

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Critics allege that the Chinese language programs spread communist propaganda

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration has withdrawn a rule proposed by former President Donald Trump's White House shortly before he left office, which would have required American schools to disclose their agreements with Confucius Institutes — a Chinese language program accused by U.S. officials of spreading communist propaganda fed from Beijing.

What are the details?

The Daily Caller reported that "the Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 31, 2020, titled 'Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms.'"

But the Biden administration rescinded the recently passed Trump policy on Jan. 26 — less than a week after he took office — a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to Campus Reform.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday in reaction, "It has been a year since the Chinese Communist Party let a pandemic spread around the world. Instead of holding them accountable for hiding the truth, the Biden Admin is rewarding China by allowing their propaganda to infiltrate our college campuses."

But Newsweek noted the same day that "Trump administration's foreign mission designation and last-minute executive order on the CI never actually banned the education programs altogether, nor did they issue guidelines on what the programs can and can't teach."

The outlet also pointed out that "at least 45 K-12 schools and universities in the U.S. have closed their CI programs in recent years, citing the same concerns about academic freedom and pro-China propaganda.

What's the background?

Confucius Institutes were branded a foreign mission of the Chinese Communist Party by the Trump administration in August, a claim that has also been made by several Republican lawmakers and other U.S. officials.

David Stillwell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, told the Associated Press at the time, "We're not kicking them out. We're just highlighting the fact that these folks do work for the Ministry of Education of the (Chinese) Communist Party."

According to The Daily Caller:

Around 500 K-12 schools and 65 colleges in the U.S. have partnerships with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, a U.S.-based affiliate of the Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters. The institute, also known as Hanban, is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

In March 2020, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a letter warning 74 American colleges and school districts that "U.S. Government agencies, including within the Intelligence Community, assert that the Communist Chinese Government uses Confucius Institutes embedded in our academic institutions as a propaganda tool within the United States. Despite these concerns, your institution's website indicates that a Confucius Institute is active on your campus."

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