GOP Rep.: U.S. 'cannot be naïve to the threat faced by Chinese influence operations'
Republican lawmakers expressed concern over new research partnerships between the Defense Department and American universities, several of which host Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes, citing national security threats.
The Pentagon last week awarded five grants to university-industry teams collaborating on research related to U.S. defense capabilities as part of the department's Defense Enterprise Science Initiative, a pilot program that incentivizes this type of collaboration. Three of the universities—Arizona State, Stanford, and the University of Washington—are home to Confucius Institutes, which are embedded on college campuses to teach Chinese language and culture while propagating communist viewpoints.
The move came even as Congress barred any U.S. university from using Pentagon funds to provide Chinese language courses through Confucius Institutes as part of the $716 billion 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Monday.
"I have long been concerned about the presence of Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes on American university campuses given the threat that these institutes pose to academic freedom as well as possible national security concerns," Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
"The FBI has warned that the Chinese government uses non-traditional intelligence collection and exploits the openness of our academic research environment, so it is imperative that academic institutions, as well as the Defense Department and other federal agencies that are funding potentially sensitive research, be mindful of this threat," he added.