Chinese-government entities funneling nearly $18 million into the American education system.
AUBURN, ALABAMA – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and 18 Senate colleagues in a letter expressing outrage towards the Department of Education for allowing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to infiltrate U.S. classrooms. The Senate letter also requests the U.S. Department of Education conduct a nationwide audit to determine the extent of funding from hostile foreign adversaries in classrooms. It was recently discovered that, for nearly two decades, the United States has received nearly $18 million in funds from Chinese-government entities, including “Confucius Classrooms” and other cultural and language programs.
“The CCP is the greatest threat to America’s security today,” writes Senator Tuberville and his GOP colleagues in the letter. “The CCP’s involvement in the K-12 education system further demonstrates how far the Chinese government is willing to go to expand its influence and promote its authoritarian agenda. We cannot sit idle and allow this expansion of CCP propaganda. Parents deserve transparency and policymakers must know the extent of the problem so we can work on solutions to protect both our students and our national security.”
Confucius programming establishes a partnership between schools, universities, or nonprofits and a Chinese government entity. Expansion of Confucius Classrooms in the United States is a top priority for the Chinese government.
A report released in July shows over 143 United States schools across 34 states and the District of Columbia have received CCP-related funding. Additionally, the report shows the CCP has ties to 20 school districts near United States military bases.
Since assuming office in the U.S. Senate in 2021, Senator Tuberville has led and supported numerous efforts to protect American resources, farmland, investments, intellectual property, and national security from the growing threat of Communist China.
Economic Security, Investments, and Intellectual Property
To curb Chinese influence in the economy, Senator Tuberville introduced legislation to ban members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from receiving B-1 and B-2 visas to the United States for vacation and non-official government business.
- The CCP is responsible for trillions of dollars of intellectual property theft each year. To curb growing foreign influence and crime and discourage other Chinese nationals from joining the CCP, the bill cosponsored by Senator Tuberville would bar all 93 million CCP members from entering the United States using nonimmigrant B-1 and B-2 visas.
Senator Tuberville believes the retirement savings of our military and federal government employees, known as the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), should not be invested in the economies of our adversaries, such as China.
- Senator Tuberville wrote about this issue in the Wall Street Journal in a column entitled, “I’ll Keep Veterans’ Pensions Safe From Communism” and discussed the issue on Fox Business.
- Senator Tuberville continued the push for accountability from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) surrounding the board’s policy on foreign investments.
- Senator Tuberville placed a hold on nominees to the FRTIB until the nominees provided clarification regarding foreign investment policies, which forced the nominees to commit to opposing TSP investment in China.
Senator Tuberville led the call for an investigation into Webull Financial, LLC and Moomoo, Inc. — two Chinese-owned stock trading apps operating in the United States that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA).
- Both apps are widely used by American investors and freely collect and store sensitive information about users, including Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, and sensitive financial account data.
- In May 2023, Senator Tuberville sent a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler and FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook calling for oversight of the trading platforms due to the potential CCP access of American user data. In the letter, Senator Tuberville asked for answers to critical questions about the ability of the SEC and FINRA to examine the Chinese companies’ compliance with American laws.
National Security and Defense
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Tuberville negotiated and secured numerous provisions in the 2022 defense bill to counteract China’s dramatic military build-up. These provisions include:
- Developing missile defense systems in the Indo-Pacific.
- Requiring Congress to recognize that China is fully industrialized and should no longer be treated as a developing nation.
- Stating the policy of the United States is to maintain the ability to deny a hostile takeover of Taiwan by China, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act (P.L.96-8).
- Prohibiting the Biden administration from inviting China to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest combined naval exercise, hosted bi-annually in Oahu, Hawaii.
- Requiring Congress to express that Taiwan should be invited to participate in the 2023 RIMPAC exercise and that the U.S. should conduct joint military exercises with Taiwan.
- Permanently blocking China from being allowed legal access to U.S. missile defense system information and technologies.
Farmland, Agriculture, and Energy
In January, Senator Tuberville led a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of 59 lawmakers in introducing the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act to bolster the U.S. agriculture industry’s role on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the governmental body that oversees the vetting process of foreign investment and acquisition of American companies. More information about the FARM Act can be found here.
In March, Senator Tuberville joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues to cosponsor the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act, which would prohibit the sale of U.S. agricultural land to any individual or entity tied to the governments of Iran, North Korea, China, or Russia.
Last year, Senator Tuberville introduced the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing land in the United States and set minimum penalties for foreign purchases that fail to comply with federal reporting requirements.
Also last year, Senator Tuberville introduced the Thorium Energy Security Act to stop the destruction of Uranium 233 (U-233), a critical element used to produce clean energy.
- Senator Tuberville secured a provision in the 2022 defense bill requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to study three aspects of thorium: 1) how it can be useful for our military, for example, in powering key bases and hardening installations, 2) how our adversaries such as China are employing thorium in their militaries, and 3) how thorium might be used as propulsion and power as we continue our leadership in space exploration.
In December, Senator Tuberville spoke on the Senate floor about America’s concerning dependence on China and Russia for critical minerals that are crucial to U.S. food, energy, and military supply chains.
- The United States imports 100 percent of its supply of 14 of the 35 critical minerals as defined by the Department of Interior.
- Senator Tuberville penned an op-ed in Federal Times explaining the importance of domestic critical mineral production.
Complete text of the letter can be found here or below:
Dear Secretary Cardona:
We write to express deep concerns regarding an alarming new report describing how millions of dollars of funding from the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) have flowed into America’s K-12 classrooms. The report found that programs vetted and managed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have infiltrated 34 states nationwide, impacting more than 170,000 students across 143 school districts. We urge you to conduct a thorough, nationwide audit to determine how much funding from hostile foreign governments has flowed to America’s K-12 schools. We also urge you to analyze the extent to which other hostile foreign governments, in addition to the PRC, may have already gained access to our K-12 schools.
For nearly two decades, the CCP has engaged in efforts to exert influence in American schools and our education system. Through grants, sister school partnerships, “Confucius Institutes,” and other state-sponsored programming, the CCP has worked to gain access to America’s education system to advance its own agenda. In a 2016 article, Chinese state-run media reported that the CCP considers Confucius Institutes “important channels” to promote and advance the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2020, the U.S. Department of State designated Confucius Institutes as a “foreign mission” of the Chinese government and Congress took steps to restrict U.S. Department of Defense funding from universities that host such institutes.
It is clear that the CCP is using the same playbook to extend information operations into our K-12 classrooms. However, measures to restrict “Confucius Classrooms” or prevent the expansion of other forms of propaganda at the primary and secondary level have yet to be taken. As the 2022 National Defense Strategy states, “[the] most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security is the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive endeavor to refashion…the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences.” While we firmly believe that American students should be exposed to a variety of languages and cultures, that instruction should not be a vehicle to advance the interests of a totalitarian power.
The CCP is the greatest threat to America’s security today. The CCP’s involvement in the K-12 education system further demonstrates how far the Chinese government is willing go to expand its influence and promote its authoritarian agenda. We cannot sit idle and allow this expansion of CCP propaganda. Parents deserve transparency and policymakers must know the extent of the problem so we can work on solutions to protect both our students and our national security.
Accordingly, we urge you to conduct a thorough, nationwide audit to determine how much funding from hostile foreign governments has flowed into America’s K-12 schools. We urge you to analyze the extent to which other hostile foreign governments, in addition to the PRC, may have already gained access to our K-12 schools. Please respond no later than September 8th, 2023 with respect to your commitment to perform that audit, as well as its scope of review. We look forward to working with you to prevent our students and their families from falling victim to authoritarian propaganda and urge you to take bold steps to curb the CCP’s malign influence in our education system.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.