Alabama Republican Calls on Local Universities to Ban China-Backed Confucius Institutes

Rep. Mo Brooks (R., Ala.) / Getty Images
September 25, 2020

Rep. Mo Brooks (R., Ala.) called on two of his state's universities to shut down their campus Confucius Institutes—college organizations backed by the Chinese Communist Party—in a letter Thursday.

"Confucius Institutes hurt the integrity of our higher education system, threaten national security, and unnecessarily risk taxpayer-funded research at your schools," Brooks warned in the letter, which he sent to Troy University and Alabama A&M University. The letter also copied multiple Republican state officials in Alabama, including Gov. Kay Ivey.

An Alabama A&M spokesperson told a local news outlet that the school had no comment on the matter. Troy University, however, defended its relationship with its Confucius Institute in a statement Friday.

"Troy University's association with the Confucius Institute has been positive, and we have seen no evidence of undue political influence from the Chinese government nor has there been any evidence of intellectual theft," the statement reads.

Confucius Institutes are Chinese campus cultural centers that are funded by the Chinese Communist Party. In August, the Trump administration designated the Confucius Institute's D.C. headquarters as a foreign mission for its record of spreading party ideology on American campuses. 

Dozens of Confucius Institutes have sprung up on campuses in recent years, funneling millions of dollars from the CCP to elite colleges and universities.

While the Trump administration has taken aggressive actions to identify and root out Chinese influence at American universities, House Democrats have been hesitant to close ranks with Republicans. In recent months, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has led major Democratic opposition to the CONFUCIUS Act, which would sharply curtail Chinese influence on college campuses.

"I regret that Speaker Pelosi has still not scheduled the CONFUCIUS Act for a vote," said Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R., Okla.), who introduced the bill's July vote. "This isn't about politics. It's about holding China accountable, and Speaker Pelosi clearly hasn't made that a priority."