Educational institutes are a prime target in China's attempts to subvert the United States, not only in colleges and universities but K-12 schools. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) detailed examples of how the Chinese have infiltrated schools nationwide in a recent op-ed for the New York Post and has introduced legislation to combat it.
While Sen. Rubio noted in his op-ed that many colleges and universities have eliminated the Chinese-tied Confucius Institutes, others maintain them under new names and structures. Additionally, there are now Confucius Classrooms, programs that function like the Institutes but on a grade-school level.
More worryingly, China's influence on American education is not always obvious, for schools have raked in billions of dollars from Chinese sources through gifts and contracts.
"Too many of these gifts and contracts are not cases of good-faith collaboration between scholars. They are cases of outright bribery and manipulation," wrote Sen. Rubio.
To this end, Rubio introduced the Protecting Education from Malign Foreign Influence Act, which would prevent educational institutes "owned, operated, or controlled by covered persons," which, in this case, means anyone with ties to adversarial foreign governments or associated entities, from receiving federal funding.
Additionally, schools would have to develop policies identifying these covered persons and preventing them from entering relationships that grant them influence over students, faculty, and staff. A third highlight relating to institutions of higher learning would lower the minimum amount of a foreign-sourced gift or contract from $250,000 to $50,000, owing to the "bribery and manipulation" mentioned in Rubio's op-ed.
The bill also has provisions for K-12 education, which includes similar prohibition of federal funds to schools tied to adversarial governments and prevention of covered persons from entering relationships with faculty and staff.
In his press release, Rubio called current measures combating the influence of foreign adversaries in education "incomplete and disappointing," and "this bill aims to close those gaps, securing a robust defense against malign foreign influence in our classrooms."
In February, Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) introduced legislation denying federal funds to Chinese-owned or operated schools with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).