Pfluger Bill Ending Chinese Infiltration Of Universities Passes Committee

Today, Homeland Security Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Subcommittee Chairman August Pfluger's legislation, H.R. 1516the DHS Restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Entities of Concern Act, passed the House Homeland Security Committee.

Pfluger's legislation prevents DHS funds from flowing to American universities that host a Confucius Institute or maintain a relationship with a Chinese entity of concern.

"It is time that we draw a line in the sand—either you support national security or you do not." said Congressman Pfluger. "This is a very simple bill that ensures universities that take money or have a relationship with the Chinese Communist Party do not get the access to national security-related research dollars that the Department of Homeland Security offers."

Rep. Pfluger spoke in support of his legislation in the Committee. Watch here, or read a transcript of his remarks as prepared below.

Remarks as prepared

"Thank you, Chairman Green, for bringing this critical piece of commonsense legislation before the Committee.

For years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), working through the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has executed sophisticated propaganda and espionage campaigns across the globe. Of particular concern is the CCP’s practice of exploiting the open and collaborative nature of American academia to conduct widespread industrial and military espionage inside the United States.

Confucius Institutes were first established in America in 2004. These initiatives were marketed by the CCP as a mechanism to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges. However, it quickly became apparent that Confucius Institutes were an extension of the CCPs global influence apparatus, allowing it to impact the decisions of academic institutions, spy on activities inside the homeland, and promote Military-Civil Fusion programs. Military-Civil Fusion is the CCP’s aggressive national strategy to help the PRC develop the most technologically advanced military in the world by the year 2049, often through the theft of American intellectual property and trade secrets.

The United States Government has rightly taken some successful action against this encroachment in the last several years. The FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited DOD funding from going to institutions of higher education that host Confucius Institutes. The time is now for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take similar action.

Under no circumstances should a school in the United States be allowed to receive DHS funding while tacitly accepting the CCP’s, money that comes with the price tag of fealty.

The legislation I put forward today, H.R. 1516, the “DHS Restrictions on Confucius Institutes Act”, ensures that schools prioritize the security of their scientific research and technological development efforts above a paycheck from the CCP or entities affiliated with the CCP or PLA.

Specifically, this legislation restricts DHS funding from going to universities that maintain relationships with entities connected to the CCP or support China’s Military-Civil Fusion programs. This bill ensures taxpayer dollars are appropriately used and encourages universities to end relationships with partners who do not have America’s best interest in mind. More importantly, this bill ensures U.S. institutions are free of foreign influence and safe from the theft of their research and development work.

Some on this committee may voice their opposition to this legislation today because it is not the same bill that passed this committee last Congress. Those individuals are correct, it’s stronger. The threat landscape has shifted dramatically since we last debated this measure. In addition, I worked in good faith last Congress with the previous majority under the assurance that this bill would receive floor consideration; however, it did not. Instead, the compromised legislation was offered as an NDAA amendment but was blocked before the Rules Committee.

You will also hear arguments that this bill adversely impacts HBCUs, MSIs, and HSIs from receiving critical funding. I do not agree with this perspective. This bill simply asks universities to make a choice: continue to take money from entities connected to the CCP or sever those ties and be eligible for all DHS taxpayer funding. Many HBCUs, MSIs, and HSIs have already voluntarily chosen to sever ties with entities connected to the CCP or rejected these invitations outright due to national security concerns. Specifically, HBCUs in Alabama and Texas chose to discontinue their ties with entities associated with the CCP. I applaud those universities for making those choices.

Some of my colleagues will argue that Confucius Institutes are no longer a threat. Again, that is simply untrue. These entities may not operate under the banner of a “Confucius Institute”, but they have actively rebranded their efforts and are alive and well on university campuses across the United States. Congress has not been able to keep up in combatting these new entities because of the rapidly evolving nature of these threats. There is little to no transparency from universities in what type of assistance they receive from the PRC. Data collected by the Department of Education from June 22, 2020, to April 6, 2023, shows that universities in the United States have collected over $3 billion from entities connected to the PRC and the CCP. Further complicating matters is that the PRC’s 2017 National Intelligence Law obligates individuals, organizations, and institutions to assist the PRC security and intelligence services in advancing a wide variety of intelligence work. We cannot allow these actions to continue, and this bill is a step in the right direction.

According to President Biden’s National Security Strategy, “The People’s Republic of China harbors the intention and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order in favor of one that tilts the global playing field to its benefit, even as the United States remains committed to managing the competition between our countries responsibly.” All of us in this room should be clear-eyed and united in combatting the greatest national security threat that our nation faces. I hope that everyone supports my legislation.

I look forward to a lively discussion on this measure. I thank Chairman Green for bringing this bill up today." 


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