Chinese Communist Party-Funded Campus Initiatives Undermine U.S. National Security

Adam Savit,  November 22, 2022


The CCP seeks to control American campus culture and enforce political alignment among foreign Chinese students.

  • China uses student organizations to take advantage of “woke” trends and uses accusations of “racism” and “intolerance” to de-platform anti-CCP speakers on university campuses while spying on Chinese dissidents within the student population.
  • Starting in 2004, the CCP began sponsoring Confucius Institutes (CIs) to export Chinese soft power to the U.S., using the promotion of traditional Chinese culture to mask the transmission of CCP ideology and leveraging academic partnerships to influence American university campus culture and counteract activities, events, or programs that would oppose the CCP. China’s Propaganda Minister Liu Yunshan spoke of using “overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes (CIs)” to carry out propaganda battles.
  • CIs have now largely closed under public scrutiny, so the CCP’s propaganda and recruitment programs have shifted to the savvier and student-oriented Chinese Student and Scholar Associations (CSSAs), organizations that keep Chinese foreign students immersed in Chinese culture and CCP doctrine while they study abroad.

The CCP also subverts U.S. higher education to fuel their technological and military progress.

  • CCP partnerships with universities, and their recruitment of individual researchers through their talent programs, create an environment of “nontraditional collectors” of intelligence and intellectual property in the academic space. China has explicitly called for educational initiatives, direct funding of programs and faculty on U.S. campuses, and the placement of students in advanced graduate programs to advance its espionage and theft of intellectual property efforts.
  • These educational partnerships are used to acquire specialized education and knowledge, which are then leveraged in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) through formal state programs. China’s “civil-military” fusion means that American universities are indirectly subsidizing the technological innovation of the PRC and the People’s Liberation Army.

There is a simple legislative solution to this complicated and serious problem.

  • The CCP has used different names and configurations for their operations, such as CIs and CSSAs, to avoid scrutiny for many years successfully. Similar types of institutions must be categorically banned so they cannot play these shell games in the future.

Legislation should ensure that “no designated foreign mission of China” is established or funded at state colleges and universities. This concise terminology covers the behavior of the CIs and CSSAs and any potential successor groups.

  • State legislatures can enforce the prohibition by requiring schools to disclose any funding received “from a designated foreign mission of China.”
  • The prohibited establishments should include “public institutions of higher education and public K-12 schools.”

State legislation should also prohibit CCP “recruitment or propaganda programs” from operating at public universities.

  • Schools should require students and faculty to disclose and terminate their participation in a range of talent acquisition programs designed to steal intellectual property, including the Thousand Talents Program, the Overseas High-Level Talent Recruitment Program, and the National High-End Foreign Experts Recruitment Plan.
  • Legislation that includes these two simple formulations will be the most successful foil to CCP subversion of U.S. higher education and their goals that undermine U.S. national security and social cohesion.

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