Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has put forth a legislative proposal designed to curb the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in American educational institutions, ranging from K-12 schools to universities.
In a statement released on September 5, Lankford expressed concern over the CCP’s efforts to “destabilize, misinform, hack, steal, and propagandize” within the U.S. educational system.
Lankford emphasized that merely exposing the ties between U.S. universities and Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes is insufficient. He pointed out that the CCP has exploited these relationships to pilfer American innovation and exert political sway over students, faculty, and their families.
The Legislation’s Provisions
The proposed bill, known as the Countering Adversarial and Malicious Partnerships at Universities and Schools (CAMPUS) Act, mandates the Director of National Intelligence to annually submit a list to Congress. This list would identify Chinese higher education institutions that support the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) through their involvement in Beijing’s military-civil fusion (MCF) strategy or the defense sector.
The legislation also restricts the Department of Defense from allocating research funds to any entity in a contractual relationship with institutions on this list. Additionally, the bill prohibits the Department of Education from funding K-12 schools that collaborate with entities linked to the PLA.
Visa Restrictions and Taiwan Partnerships
The Secretary of State would have the authority to deny visas to nonimmigrants who support the Chinese military. Moreover, the bill encourages American schools to form partnerships with Taiwan for Mandarin language instruction and Chinese cultural programming.
Previous Concerns and Actions
Senator Lankford, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had previously co-authored a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. The letter followed a report by Parents Defending Education, which revealed that the CCP has funded Chinese language programs in 143 school districts across 34 states and the District of Columbia, amounting to over $1.7 million since 2009.
Lankford and other Republican senators have urged Cardona to conduct a nationwide audit to assess the extent of foreign funding in America’s K-12 schools. They have requested a response from Cardona by September 8.