Biden administration withdraws Trump proposal to track Chinese influence in US schools
Chuck Ross, DCNF
The Biden administration quietly withdrew a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have required American schools and universities to disclose their partnerships with Confucius Institutes, which some U.S. officials allege are front groups for Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
The Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 31, 2020, entitled “Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms.”
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.
Many of Hanban’s directors are members of the Chinese Communist Party or have close ties to the organization, The Daily Caller has previously reported.
The Trump-era proposal was withdrawn from consideration on Jan. 26, according to information at RegInfo.gov, the website for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which operates under the Office of Management and Budget and the White House.
The OIRA website does not provide any other information about the proposal, or why it was tabled. The website does say that at any point in the review process for a proposed rule, “an agency may withdraw its rule from review and choose not to move forward with it or to resubmit it after further consideration.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to questions about withdrawing the proposal.
President Joe Biden has pledged to review and potentially nullify many of President Trump’s executive orders, particularly those related to immigration issues, which fall under the control of DHS.
Axios reported on Jan. 11 that the Trump administration was trying to push through a rule that would require colleges and K-12 schools to disclose any financial ties to Confucius Institutes. The story noted that Biden could quickly undo the rule once he took office.
In August, the Trump administration labeled the Confucius Institutes U.S. Center a “foreign mission” of the Chinese Communist Party, a designation typically used for foreign embassies and consulates.
The Foreign Missions Act applies to entities that are “substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government.”
Trump administration officials said that the Chinese government used the Confucius Institutes as part of its propaganda and influence efforts in the U.S.
Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, who spearheaded many of the Trump administration’s China initiatives, said on Aug. 13 that the Confucius Institute was “an entity controlled by the PRC that advances Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.”
The Confucius Institute U.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.