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Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Bill seeks to address foreign influence

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Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) recently reintroduced a measure they said is designed to address foreign influence.

The Foreign Influence Transparency Act would require organizations such as the Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); amends the Higher Education Act to require universities to disclose donations, contracts, or the fair market value of in-kind gifts from any foreign source if the amount is $50,000 or greater; and requires institutions that have entered into an agreement with a Confucius Institute to disclose the full agreement on its website and to the Department of Education or risk losing their Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

“I’m pleased to once again co-sponsor this important legislation to increase transparency in foreign funding on our college and university campuses,” Portman said. “As my bipartisan report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations proved, China has routinely exploited this lack of transparency by controlling, funding, and staffing Confucius Institutes at campuses across our country. That report also documented how Confucius Institutes can stifle academic freedom and provide students with an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of Chinese history, government actions, and policies that run counter to U.S. interests at home and abroad.”

He said the lack of transparency should not continue at American colleges and universities.

Rubio said the legislation seeks to bring greater transparency to the activities of foreign governments operating domestically.

“This legislation will strengthen foreign disclosure requirements for American colleges and universities and close existing loopholes in our law so that entities like China’s Confucius Institutes are required to register with the Department of Justice as foreign agents,” he said.