More than 70 U.S. universities that received funding from the Chinese government did not disclose those donations to the Department of Education, prompting concerns from lawmakers and watchdogs about Beijing and the Communist Party's growing influence on American college campuses.
The DOE requires all credentialed universities to reveal how much money they receive in foreign gifts of more than $250,000.
However, only 30 percent of U.S. institutions linked to Confucius Institutes, which are underwritten by the Chinese government to promote Chinese language and culture, do so, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.
The newspaper reached out to 75 higher learning institutions that failed to report their foreign funding to the federal government. Of those they reached out to, only 22 responded. Most said they did not disclose the donations because their annual receipts fell below the $250,000 threshold.
Rachelle Peterson, director of policy at the National Association of Scholars, called the lack of accountability "alarming" and said the $250,000 limit is "much too high of a threshold."
"Gifts of money at much smaller amounts can be very swaying over a college or university, especially the humanities (departments) which traditionally have lower funding," she said.
The Chinese government has doled out millions of dollars to American universities to support more than 100 Confucius Institutes across the country and include some big names.
The University of Michigan, University of Maryland and Emory University in Atlanta have received $30.4 million in total between 2014 and 2020, the Free Beacon reported. Several other prestigious universities that the Beacon reached out to, such as Columbia University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago, did not respond.
Higher education watchdogs have long complained that Confucius Institutes could be an unchecked pipeline for China to push its Communist propaganda and spread a heavily edited version of Chinese history that favors the government.
"The Chinese Communist Party doesn't need to seek the consent of the governed," Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said. "And (they) are very used to—within the context of China—being able to censor debate. They want to do the same thing in the United States through different means, and the Confucius Institutes are one of the ways in which it does it."
Past Senate and federal investigations have also found that the Chinese regime directly hires teachers for the program and prohibits them from saying anything negative about China to the students they teach.