Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Congressmen Urge Schools to Sever Ties with Chinese Institute

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Congressmen Urge Schools to Sever Ties with Chinese Institute

Article excerpt

Four Texas universities were recently urged by their representatives in Congress to sever ties with the Chinese government-funded Confucius Institute.

U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, sent a bipartisan letter to Texas A&M University University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas Southern University in Houston.

"In light of China's subversive behavior and malicious intent to suppress our American values of free expression, speech and debate," they wrote, "we respectfully and strongly urge you to consider terminating your Confucius Institute and other agreements with Chinese government-supported organizations."

McCaul is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and Cuellar serves on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Both publicized the letter in a statement accusing the language and cultural center of being a front for spreading Chinese propaganda.

John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, confirmed that the program is being discontinued at the main campus in Bryan-College Station and at Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college located near Houston.

"We have great respect for Congressmen McCaul and Cuellar," Sharp said in a statement. "I don't question their judgment, nor their patriotism. In addition, they have access to classified information we do not have. We are terminating the contract as they suggested."

Texas A&M's five-year contract with the Confucius Institute was already set to end in June and will not be renewed, said Laylan Copelin, spokesman for the Texas A&M University System. He said the university was given $125,000 for participating in the program.

"The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M is very small," Copelin told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper recently. "They don't teach courses, and they don't have access to classified research. They mostly bring in visiting scholars to increase cultural awareness."

Copelin also said the university was recently one of two Defense Department contractors--and the only academic institution --to win the 2017 Defense Security Service Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, the Confucius Institute started in 2007, according to the university's website. A decision on whether to end it has not been announced.

"The university has received a letter expressing concerns about the Confucius Institute from U.S. Representatives McCaul and Cuellar. We are currently reviewing all issues related to the Confucius Institute," said John Walls, vice president of communications at the University of Texas at Dallas. …

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