A Republican from Indiana wants to protect academic freedoms from foreign communist influence.
Todd Rokita is cracking down on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) propaganda operations across the Hoosier State. Indiana’s attorney general launched an official probe into the Beijing-funded Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University, 139 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Rokita hopes shining a light on the CCP’s efforts to influence and control university students will help protect the right to unbiased education across the United States.
“Our investigation seeks to uncover whether the Chinese government has attempted to exert political influence, and manipulate the attitudes and beliefs of Hoosiers through their Confucius Institutes,” he said in a statement. “Our office will use every tool at our disposal to protect Hoosiers and put liberty into action.”
The civil investigation will examine possible violations of either the Higher Education Act or the state Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. It will also identify and expose the true intent of any relationship between the university and CCP.
Rokita revealed that the CCP has been very open about establishing Confucius Institutes at American universities. He said that remarks in 2010 from Chinese Propaganda Minister Liu Yunshan confirmed that such institutes are meant to strengthen efforts both home and abroad to spread propaganda, creating ideal conditions overseas to infiltrate the CCP ideals.
Yunshun further added propaganda wars against Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, human rights, and Falun Gong needed to be increased.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission describes the Confucius Institute as a “United Front” spy organization.
“China uses what it calls United Front work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling CCP,” the commission said according to the attorney general’s office.
The university reportedly received more than $1.1 million in funds from Beijing’s Hanban headquarters between 2010 and 2019. The partnership not only delivered programs targeting university students but also younger students. It achieved this through sponsoring programs at nearby elementary and high schools.
The CCP has provided more than $158 million to over 100 American schools for Confucius Institutes since the year 2006, according to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ 2019 bipartisan report.
There are also transparency concerns about how Chinese directors and teachers who staff Confucius Institutes are selected. Some have complained about being unable to join free Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) meditation classes and reading groups.
“They are vetted and hired by the Chinese government, and U.S. universities choose from a pool of applicants approved by the CCP,” the attorney general’s office said.