December 9, 2021 | Monograph
The Middle Kingdom Meets Higher Education
How U.S. Universities Support China’s Military-Industrial Complex
- Bo Mao and Xiamen University
- Re-examining Chinese Soft Power
- Assessing CI Closures (2018-2021)
- CI Closures Do Not Tell the Whole Story
- The 34 Confucius Institute Holdouts
- Policy Recommendations
- Appendix I
- Appendix II
- Appendix III
- Appendix IV
- Appendix V
- Appendix VI
- Appendix VII
- Appendix VIII
December 9, 2021 | Monograph
The Middle Kingdom Meets Higher Education
How U.S. Universities Support China’s Military-Industrial Complex
Confucius Institutes (CIs) are Chinese government-sponsored organizations offering Chinese-language, cultural, and historical programming at the primary, secondary, and university levels worldwide. CIs are also a key element in China’s “united front,” a network of groups and key individuals that seek to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).1 CIs further serve as platforms that advance facets of China’s military-civil fusion (MCF), a national strategy aimed at acquiring the world’s cutting-edge technologies — including through theft — to achieve Chinese military dominance.2 China’s CI-enabled initiatives include the establishment of academic and research partnerships between top-tier American institutions and Chinese universities supporting Beijing’s military-industrial complex.
Between 2018 and 2021, the number of CIs operating in the United States fell from 113 to 34. Only four of these 79 closures were attributed to national security concerns, despite ample evidence that China leverages relationships with U.S. universities to acquire the technology and talent Beijing needs to win its strategic competition with the United States.3 CI closures began in earnest only after Congress passed legislation that bars universities hosting CIs from receiving certain types of funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The universities that have resisted shuttering their CIs are ones that do not receive federal funding jeopardized by this new legislation.
Troublingly, a CI closure often does not result in the severance of ties between its American host and the CCP-selected Chinese sister university that supported the CI’s programming. Following at least 28 of the 79 documented closures, U.S. universities that shuttered their CIs chose to maintain, and in some cases expand, their relationships with their Chinese sister universities, many of which support China’s defense industry. This support includes directly enabling Beijing’s intelligence apparatus as well as underwriting China’s nuclear weapons sector and cyber-espionage platforms.
Documenting the evolving relationships between these U.S. and Chinese universities, both before and after a CI closure, remains challenging. U.S. universities are not required by federal law to disclose details about their partnerships with Chinese or other foreign universities. Several schools have voluntarily published their CI contracts and copies of their academic partnership agreements with Chinese universities. Requests under the Freedom of Information Act have led to the release of several more. These documents are essential to understanding how CIs operate, yet still provide only a partial view.
As of August 2021, there were 34 active CIs in the United States, spread across 20 states. Twenty-eight of these CIs were hosted by U.S. universities; five were co-located in K-12 school districts; and one was hosted by a private educational organization, the China Institute in Manhattan. Of the 28 universities currently hosting a CI, 10 maintain active sister-school relationships with Chinese universities conducting classified research in support of China’s defense establishment.4 Curiously, only one of these Chinese schools, Sichuan University, is on the U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List, which restricts the exportation of sensitive items to designated entities and individuals. Sichuan University earned its designation for supporting China’s nuclear weapons program.5 At present, U.S. universities are under no legal or regulatory obligation to sever ties with Chinese universities supporting China’s military, even when those Chinese universities appear on the Entity List.
This report analyzes CI closures between 2018 and 2021. First, it evaluates the rationales that U.S. universities provided when announcing the closures. It also demonstrates that dozens of U.S. universities have voluntarily elected to maintain or expand partnerships with their Chinese sister universities long after shuttering their CIs. Relatedly, the report examines how these Chinese universities provide direct support to China’s MCF program and defense industry. Lastly, the report examines the 34 remaining CIs across the United States and offers a series of policy recommendations aimed at uncovering, and even neutralizing, China’s ability to leverage CIs and their associated academic partnerships to access sensitive U.S. research and development (R&D).
American efforts should include increasing transparency surrounding CI-enabled agreements between U.S. and Chinese universities and better educating U.S. universities about the risks of partnering with entities affiliated with China’s defense buildup. Additionally, the U.S. government should foster alternative Chinese-language initiatives to outcompete CI language programming. The U.S. government should also establish legal and regulatory guardrails to neutralize China’s ability either to acquire foundational knowledge or to access more sensitive research being conducted on U.S. college campuses. These guardrails should include measures to address due-diligence and counterintelligence gaps in the U.S. government’s National Industrial Security Program (NISP), which ensures that cleared U.S. defense entities working on lucrative U.S. government contracts protect classified information. Such entities include U.S. universities that support NISP-related projects while simultaneously partnering with Chinese universities tied to China’s military.
By the Numbers: Confucius Institutes
|113||Active CIs in 2018|
|79||CI closures between 2018 and 2021|
|34||CIs that remain open|
This report does not provide an exhaustive analysis of Beijing’s malign influence on U.S. college campuses. Nor does it seek explicitly to address unsubstantiated claims that CIs themselves serve as platforms for Chinese intelligence operations. It also does not focus on how CI programming undermines free-speech protections on college campuses.6 Rather, the report seeks to dispel two misconceptions: that CI closures have significantly eroded malign Chinese influence on college campuses, and that CIs are solely tools of Chinese soft power rather than vehicles for aiding China’s military modernization.
Not all academic or cultural engagement between U.S. and Chinese universities carries risk. However, a U.S. university’s decision to establish a CI program often leads to other forms of collaboration with malign Chinese government-affiliated entities. Understanding the scope of these evolving partnerships as well as the role Chinese universities play in advancing Beijing’s MCF program is necessary to address China’s malign influence in U.S. higher education.
Table 1: U.S. Universities That Maintain Academic or Research Partnerships With Chinese Sister Universities That Directly Support China’s Military-Industrial Complex
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||STATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE STATUS||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|Alfred University||NY||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Open||X|
|Arizona State University||AZ||Sichuan University||Closed||X||X|
|Bryant University||RI||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Open||X|
|Chicago Public School District||IL||East China Normal University||Open||X||X|
|China Institute of Manhattan||NY||East China Normal University||Open||X||X|
|College of William and Mary||VA||Beijing Normal University||Closed||X||X|
|Emory University||GA||Nanjing University||Open||X||X|
|Pacific Lutheran University||WA||Sichuan University||Open||X||X|
|Portland State University||OR||Soochow University||Closed||X||X|
|Purdue University*||IN||Shanghai Jiao Tong University||Closed||X||X||X||X|
|Rutgers University||NJ||Jilin University||Closed||X||X||X|
|San Diego Global Knowledge University||CA||Xiamen University||Open||X||X||X|
|San Diego State University||CA||Xiamen University||Closed||X||X||X|
|San Francisco State University||CA||Beijing Normal University||Closed||X||X|
|Stanford University||CA||Peking University||Open||X||X||X|
|Texas A&M University||TX||Ocean University of China||Closed||X||X|
|Texas Southern University||TX||Beijing Jiaotong University||Closed||X||X|
|The University of Tennessee, Knoxville||TN||Southeast University||Closed||X||X||X||X|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||TX||Southeast University||Closed||X||X||X||X|
|The University of Toledo||OH||Yanshan University||Open||X|
|The University of Utah||UT||Sichuan University||Open||X||X|
|Tufts University||MA||Beijing Normal University||Closed||X||X|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||CA||Shandong University||Open||X||X|
|University of Central Arkansas||AR||East China Normal University||Closed||X||X|
|University of Delaware||DE||Xiamen University||Closed||X||X||X|
|University of Oregon||OR||East China Normal University||Closed||X||X|
|University of Washington||WA||Peking University||Closed||X||X||X|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||LA||Hebei University||Open||X||X||X|
* Following a series of 2021 pre-publication briefings with the report’s author, Purdue University voluntarily initiated a university-wide review of its international partnerships, including its various relationships with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). As part of this comprehensive effort, Purdue terminated a doctorate-level program with SJTU and initiated a risk-based review of a separate undergraduate-level degree program with SJTU. Purdue also took proactive steps to terminate inactive agreements with several other Chinese university partners with problematic ties to China’s military-industrial complex, including Southeast University.
The Case of Bo Mao and Xiamen University
For decades, China denied that its government or citizens bore any culpability for global intellectual property (IP) theft, even though forensic analysis consistently revealed China’s centrality in such schemes.7 In 2020, William Evanina, the then-director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, stated that Chinese IP theft costs U.S. companies between $300 billion and $600 billion annually.8 According to a 2019 CNBC survey, one in five U.S. corporations claimed China had stolen their IP the previous year.9
Over the years, the federal government and private cybersecurity firms have attributed much of this theft to China-based hackers, including those working for China’s intelligence services. But, increasingly, China has acquired IP and other sensitive R&D through academic channels in ways that are both active and passive. Such efforts include leveraging Chinese researchers and students studying at U.S. universities to acquire sensitive information on Beijing’s behalf.
In April 2016, China’s Xiamen University (XMU) signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese telecommunications conglomerate and U.S. Entity List designee Huawei Technologies. As part of the deal, XMU and Huawei agreed to collaborate on communications and information technology research, jointly establishing the Huawei Information and Internet Technology College at XMU.10 At the time, a number of U.S. civil and criminal suits had already accused Huawei of fraudulently obtaining U.S. IP.
Huawei and XMU wasted little time identifying their first target of interest: California-based semiconductor company CNEX Labs, Inc., an industry leader in solid-state drive (SSD) technology, which enables data centers to manage the ever-growing volume of information generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and other applications. The goal of the XMU-Huawei operation was straightforward: obtain information about CNEX’s revolutionary SSD technology.11 In pursuit of that objective, XMU and Huawei exploited a visiting-professor partnership with a prominent U.S. research university.
Bo Mao’s career as an SSD researcher and computer scientist began in 2010, when he started his post-doctoral work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).12 Bo arrived in Lincoln only three years after UNL opened its now-shuttered CI, which partnered with China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU).13 This CI partnership subsequently blossomed to include non-CI-related programming and academic exchanges. In the years after UNL opened its CI, the university went on to establish additional academic and research partnerships with more than 14 other Chinese universities, a number of which maintain links to China’s defense industry.14
XJTU’s ties to China’s MCF program are noteworthy. XJTU is subordinate to the Chinese Ministry of Education and supervised by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) as part of China’s national-level program to develop classified defense research.15 XJTU has described its strategy as being geared toward the needs of the nation and serving China’s national defense industry. XJTU, like other Chinese civilian universities that support China’s defense buildup, received a government security clearance in 2006, after which time XJTU began participating in MCF research and other “military research tasks.”16 Such work included strategic partnerships with three entities heavily involved in supporting China’s military-industrial complex: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, and the Aero Engine Corporation of China.17 XJTU hosts three major defense laboratories working on sensitive military projects.18 It also has a cooperation agreement with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and has participated in exhibitions to support high-tech achievements in the MCF field.19
After completing his post-doctoral work in Nebraska, Bo accepted a professorship at XMU, where he got to work supporting the university’s Huawei partnership. In 2016, Bo contacted CNEX Labs and requested one of its computer boards, ostensibly for academic research. At the time, the board was not available for public purchase, as it contained proprietary technology. CNEX Labs agreed to send Bo the board but only after he signed a non-disclosure agreement pledging not to share the technology with third parties or to develop a competitive product.20 Unbeknownst to CNEX Labs, Bo was already directly collaborating with Huawei’s SSD application manager to develop a similar product.21
Weeks after receiving the board, Bo contacted CNEX and claimed one of his students had damaged it. U.S. prosecutors subsequently concluded that Bo and/or his Chinese accomplices tried to hack the proprietary gear. Several months later, one of CNEX’s distributors alerted the company that Huawei had contacted the distributor directly to procure the very same board. In its request to CNEX’s distributor, Huawei provided a confidential product number. Bo was the only academic to whom CNEX had ever provided such information. CNEX ceased providing technical support to Bo and his XMU research.22
According to a criminal complaint later filed against Bo, he continued to work on the SSD project. This time, Bo enlisted the help of an American professor at The University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington), which had an academic partnership with XMU. One month after CNEX severed ties with Bo, he requested access to the UT Arlington professor’s Texas-based server to support his and Huawei’s SSD research. Huawei’s U.S. subsidiary subsequently donated $100,000 to UT Arlington, where Bo began work in 2018 as a visiting XMU professor. As part of this academic partnership arrangement, Bo continued to advance Huawei’s SSD research with the unwitting help of the UT Arlington professor and other American researchers. Bo was later invited to participate in a UT Arlington SSD-related study supported by Huawei’s $100,000 donation.23
This scheme continued until August 2019, when Bo was arrested for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and lying to the FBI.
Bo’s case, from his time as a post-doctoral researcher to his involvement in the XMU-Huawei conspiracy, exemplifies China’s use of CIs and opaque academic partnerships with U.S. universities to further its technological and scientific ambitions. In this instance, it was XJTU and later XMU that granted China access to sensitive American R&D. In a civil case related to Bo’s arrest, CNEX Labs further alleged that Huawei Deputy Chairman Eric Xu conspired to steal its technology with the help of Bo and others. In that case, Huawei denied any wrongdoing but acknowledged that Xu “was in the chain of command that had requested” information about CNEX, and that there was an agreement between Huawei and XMU.24
The same could not be said for Bo. In December 2020, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but not before accepting legal assistance paid for by Huawei’s U.S. subsidiary.25 Despite expressing no remorse, Bo was sentenced to time served and ordered to return to China. U.S. prosecutors, who supported the sentence, dropped a more serious wire fraud conspiracy charge. The judge said that while Bo pleaded guilty only to lying, his criminal conduct was “far worse,” and “he might even be considered a patriot” back in China.26
As of August 2021, XMU was the Chinese sister university for a CI at San Diego Global Knowledge University. XMU also maintains ties to San Diego State University’s Chinese Cultural Center, having previously been the Chinese sister university for a now-shuttered CI there. According to XMU’s website, as of 2017, the university had academic and student exchange partnership agreements with at least 37 other U.S. universities.27 Nearly all those universities are “R1” or “R2” research institutes, involved in the highest levels of academic research in the United States.28
Re-examining Chinese Soft Power: How CIs Operate
The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) is the Chinese entity responsible for coordinating and overseeing the bulk of CCP influence operations. In the past decade, “united front” operations have included efforts to target foreign elites and the Chinese diaspora to, among other things, enable unsupervised technology transfers to China.29 These efforts directly reflect Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s belief that Chinese students studying overseas should play a major role in promoting China’s “economic and social development.”30 The CI program’s direct and indirect linkages to China’s propaganda apparatus demonstrate that CIs enable and amplify China’s broader “united front” strategy. This is consistent with the CCP’s belief that soft power should improve the party-state’s domestic objectives, which include technological modernization.31
The UFWD’s connections to the CI program date back to the program’s inception. These connections are both structural and financial in nature. When the CI program began in 2004, it was overseen by the head of the UFWD, Liu Yandong, a former Chinese vice premier and CCP Politburo member.32 Liu later served as chair of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, which, until 2020, was the CI program’s parent organization, also known as “Hanban,” short for “National Chinese Language Office.” In 2020, Hanban was renamed the Center for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC). Hanban’s rebranding followed revelations that CIs served to advance CCP propaganda while stifling academic freedom and free-speech protections on college campuses.33
CI operations in the United States and abroad are funded by the CCP’s Propaganda Department, which is formally affiliated with the UFWD.34 Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology has estimated that in 2019 alone, the CCP allocated $2.6 billion to support UFWD operations, with nearly $600 million allocated for “influencing foreigners and overseas Chinese communities.”35 These figures underscore the UFWD’s centrality in enabling the CCP’s access to and influence over foreign audiences and actors, including in academia. Li Changchun, a former member of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, said it best during a speech at the CI program’s Beijing headquarters in November 2011. “Using the excuse of teaching [the] Chinese language,” she noted, “everything looks reasonable and logical.”36 Thus, many U.S. universities have unwittingly advanced China’s military and technological modernization under the guise of academic and cultural collaboration.
Tools of Subnational Influence and Access
At the subnational level, CI programs allow the CCP to propagate its own version of China’s political history, blur its record of human rights abuses, and portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed Chinese possessions.37 CIs also provide Chinese civilian universities under the control of the Chinese party-state — and, by extension, the CCP itself — with access to U.S. college campuses and academic elites. Unfortunately, such access typically endures long after a CI is shuttered. This access facilitates building relationships with and exerting influence over individuals responsible for a university’s international or global partnerships, not to mention U.S. academics, researchers, and students. This greatly aids China’s military pursuits in ways that are both active and passive. Of particular concern is that China’s civilian university system and its students play a key role in supporting China’s broader military-industrial complex, including its nuclear program, cyber-espionage platforms, and other sensitive weapons research.38
Moreover, the CCP and its defense industry can actively harness joint-degree programs and other research-focused initiatives in MCF-related fields to fill critical knowledge gaps.39 These efforts can also be indirect, with exchange programs and CI-enabled academic partnership agreements that allow Chinese students and scholars from MCF-tied Chinese universities to study in the United States. The foundational knowledge gleaned from these experiences, however benign, can and does support MCF-related innovation. The Trump administration, via Presidential Proclamation 10043, sought to restrict the ability of MCF-affiliated Chinese nationals to study or conduct research in the United States.40 However, the number of Chinese civilian universities that the CCP has tasked with supporting China’s military modernization continues to expand, making it progressively harder to tailor such restrictions to target only high-risk exchanges.
This knowledge-transfer threat is not novel. For decades, Beijing has openly exploited the expertise of Chinese students and scholars studying or conducting research in the United States to accelerate China’s economic and military modernization. Beijing’s efforts include sponsoring promising Chinese students and scholars in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields at U.S. and foreign universities, with the understanding that these individuals will return home to provide the technology and talent Beijing needs to compete with the United States.41 Xi has championed such programs as key to China’s long-term development.42 Beijing has also adapted these programs to account for increased efforts by U.S. policymakers to combat China’s illegal theft of American IP.
Form Follows Function
The academic and research associations that flow from a CI relationship involve three parties: the U.S. university, the CCP, and a Chinese sister university selected by the CCP to support the CI’s programming. U.S. universities enter into separate, multi-year contractual relationships with both the CCP and the Chinese sister university. The CCP retains final approval over the contract between the U.S. university hosting the CI and the Chinese sister university.43 These contracts dictate the terms of each CI’s day-to-day operations, including funding provided by both the CCP and the U.S. university. Most contracts promote collaboration between the three parties in areas beyond language instruction. This collaboration includes “[s]upporting China-related research,” “[o]rganizing and funding conferences and workshops,” and “[h]osting and co-sponsoring speakers.”44 A U.S. university’s decision to shutter its CI does not immediately invalidate its separate contractual agreement with its Chinese sister university, which can persist for months or even years after the CI’s closure.
CI agreements set the stage for the U.S. university’s enhanced relationship both with its Chinese sister university and with other Chinese universities. The CCP’s selection of the U.S. and Chinese universities associated with each CI program is not indiscriminate. The CCP focuses on establishing CIs at America’s top R&D centers rather than at the 4,000 non-research-focused colleges and universities across the country. Specifically, of the 113 CIs active in 2018, 71 (or 63 percent) were at America’s top research universities.45
Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the Chinese sister universities selected by the CCP to support CIs are China’s top civilian R&D centers supporting MCF. This is not a coincidence, particularly in light of Chinese leaders’ stated desire to harness information from foreign universities to power China’s technological innovation.
Transparency and Governance
Numerous studies have highlighted the problems associated with CIs and other forms of academic collaboration between U.S. and Chinese universities. These problems include the absence of any legal or regulatory obligation requiring American universities to publicly disclose their CI contracts. The same applies to their academic partnership agreements with Chinese universities. On the American side, the universities alone decide whether or not to enter into these academic, research, and financial relationships, and have no obligation to report these activities to federal or local authorities. This lack of oversight even extends to instances in which a Chinese university has been added to the Entity List or otherwise publicly cited as a threat to U.S. national security.
By far the greatest governance challenge to monitoring China’s influence in U.S. higher education stems from weak financial disclosure requirements. The system for disclosing foreign donations to U.S. universities is codified in Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965. This law requires nearly all colleges and universities to submit biannual reports on foreign gifts and contracts valued at $250,000 or more (alone or in combination with other foreign gifts or contracts), and to disclose foreign ownership or control to the U.S. secretary of education.46 These rules apply to donations from CLEC (formerly Hanban) accepted by U.S. universities to support CI operations.
A 2019 investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found Section 117 reporting to be systemically incomplete and inaccurate.47 A 2020 compliance report from the U.S. Department of Education revealed that the U.S. higher education industry has “massively underreported while also anonymizing much of the money it did disclose, all to hide foreign sources (and, correspondingly, their influence on campus) from the Department [of Education] and the public.” The report states that such trends are “extremely troubling because the evidence shows that these institutions have sophisticated systems for managing, soliciting, and tracking contributions, grants, and contracts over time and from many thousands of sources, foreign and domestic.” In short, while U.S. higher education institutions assiduously track (down to the cent) funds owed to them by students, they have failed to accurately report anonymous donations from countries such as China, Qatar, and Russia, which exceeded $1.14 billion since 2012.48
Assessing Confucius Institute Closures Between 2018 and 2021
Between 2018 and 2021, the number of CIs operating in the United States fell from 113 to 34.49 This steep decline occurred in the absence of federal or state-level legislation specifically banning CI operations on U.S. campuses. Rather, these closures occurred within the context of several important trends, including a marked deterioration in U.S.-China relations during the Trump administration and a corresponding increase in reporting about malign Chinese activity.50
During this time, U.S. regulatory and law enforcement agencies also increased their monitoring of Chinese influence on U.S. college campuses. These U.S. efforts included the establishment of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DoJ’s) China Initiative.51 This program includes new law enforcement strategies aimed at identifying non-traditional collectors (such as researchers at U.S. universities) that transfer sensitive technology to China. This effort is aimed at neutralizing China’s Thousand Talents Program (千人计划), which the CCP established in 2008 to recruit Chinese and select foreign nationals in elite overseas programs to support China’s competitiveness in science and innovation.52 DoJ’s China Initiative also includes enhanced efforts to educate universities about potential threats to academic freedom and open discourse as a result of CCP influence on campus.53 This threat includes China’s CI program, which FBI Director Christopher Wray referred to as a platform to “disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, and to restrict academic freedom.”54
Yet another factor contributing to closures during this period was COVID-19, which adversely impacted university operating budgets across the United States. Many U.S. universities were forced to reassess their academic and extracurricular programming, including their ability to sustain CI operations. U.S. universities suffered additional financial losses thanks to a 72 percent decrease in the number of foreign students attending U.S. schools. In 2020, almost 92,000 fewer Chinese students studied in the United States compared to 2019.55
Typically, when a U.S. university or K-12 school district decided to close its CI, the university or district communicated its decision via a public announcement. (In some cases, however, CI closures were confirmed only in response to an external inquiry.) Reviewing these announcements yields useful insight into how U.S. universities sought to justify their CI closures. This insight may help policymakers identify strategies for shuttering active CIs. It can also help guide U.S. universities seeking to sever links with Chinese universities tied to Beijing’s defense establishment. An examination of these announcements between 2018 and 2021 reveals that only four CI closures were attributed to national security concerns, whereas four times as many CIs were shuttered in response to federal legislation that blocked DoD from funding universities hosting CIs. Indeed, U.S. universities are more likely to sever ties when funding is jeopardized, not because of vague national security concerns.
Citations for each announcement can be found in Appendix III.
By the Numbers: Stated Rationales for CI Closures
|Amount||Stated Rationales for CI Closures|
|15||Potential loss of federal funding following new NDAA provisions|
|9||Lack of university funding to maintain CI operations|
|8||Programmatic restructuring and/or establishment of a new university center on East Asia|
|6||Lack of student interest|
|5||Unspecified misalignment between university goals and CI programming|
|2||Overly burdensome administrative oversight|
|1||Shortage of qualified language instructors|
|1||Rising tensions in the U.S.-China relationship|
|23||No official reason provided|
National Security Concerns Raised by Members of Congress
Between 2018 and 2021, congressional interest in China’s higher education activities increased dramatically. Legislators, as well as congressional committees, expressed interest in better understanding the role CIs play in advancing China’s “united front.” Citing national security concerns, members of Congress from both political parties advocated for universities to cease hosting CIs. These calls often referenced vague connections between CIs and Chinese espionage operations.
In February 2018, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent letters to every higher education institution in Florida hosting a CI, urging them to terminate those relationships. In his letters, Rubio, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cited the “Chinese government’s increasingly aggressive attempts to use Confucius Institutes and other means to influence foreign academic institutions and critical analysis of China’s past history and present policies.” Rubio also cited the threat posed by “China’s aggressive campaign to infiltrate American classrooms, stifle free inquiry, and subvert free expression both at home and abroad.”56
Rubio’s letter campaign was not without success. The University of South Florida (USF) announced the closure of its CI several months later. USF conceded that national security concerns played a role in its decision, as did low student enrollment in its CI programming. Subsequent CI closures were announced by the University of West Florida, Miami Dade College, and the University of North Florida. However, these announcements did not mention national security concerns or Rubio’s letters. Instead, they cited a lack of student interest, declining CI enrollment, and misalignment between university goals and CI programming, respectively.
In March 2018, Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) sent letters to Texas universities, urging them to close their CIs. The congressmen cited the threat CIs pose to “our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda.”57 In response, Texas A&M University announced the immediate closure of its CI, specifically citing the letter. This decision, made by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Shields, also resulted in the immediate closure of the CI at Prairie View A&M University. Shields noted that McCaul and Cuellar had “access to classified information” not available to the school. As of August 2021, there were no active CIs operating at universities in Texas. The only active CI in the state was at the K-12 Houston Independent School District.
Other members of Congress, including Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA), Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), also cited national security concerns when calling for the closure of CIs in their respective states. Nevertheless, subsequent CI closure announcements by universities in Massachusetts, Missouri, and Tennessee did not specifically mention such concerns. For example, the University of Missouri attributed its January 2020 CI closure to new, cost-prohibitive U.S. State Department guidelines “requiring the presence of a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute staff member.” In January 2020, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), following in the footsteps of The University of Tennessee and The University of Memphis, simply announced that it was “winding down” its CI relationship. However, MTSU noted that it would maintain its active relationships with 11 Chinese universities.
University Concerns Regarding Potential Federal Funding Cuts
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, signed into law by President Donald Trump in August 2018, included a provision that prohibits universities hosting a CI from receiving DoD funding for Chinese-language study.58 The prohibition can be waived if a DoD official certifies that CI employees and instructors have no involvement with the Chinese-language program or any authority or influence over its curriculum. Within months, 15 U.S. universities closed their CIs, with most citing potential funding losses associated with the new NDAA provision.
For example, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis subtly referenced the NDAA in its closure announcement, noting that shuttering the CI ensured the continued operation of other programs that would have been negatively impacted by “federal changes surrounding Chinese language programs.” In announcing its April 2019 CI closure, the University of Oregon also cited the NDAA and noted that the university was forced to “shutter [its CI] in order to maintain funding for the university’s National Security Education Chinese Flagship.” In disclosing San Diego State University’s August 2019 CI closure, a university representative put it plainly: “Any institution receiving Department of Defense funds must remove their Confucius Institutes.”
At least four U.S. universities — Arizona State University, San Diego State University, Western Kentucky University, and San Francisco State University — sought DoD waivers to maintain their CIs. However, those requests were denied. There is no record of any U.S. university having successfully obtained such a DoD waiver.
Lack of University Funding to Maintain Confucius Institute Programming
Between 2018 and 2021, amidst heightened scrutiny of CIs, nine U.S. universities cited budget pressures, including the economic toll caused by COVID-19, as the reason for their CI closures. Notably, while U.S. universities hosting CIs often receive some funding from the Chinese government via CLEC (formerly Hanban) to support CI programming, that funding is almost always insufficient to sustain all CI operations. As a result, U.S. universities often must allocate funds from their own budgets to support CI operations.
The University of Iowa attributed its 2018 CI closure to “back-to-back state budget cuts by the Iowa legislature.” The Community College of Denver also cited evolving budgetary challenges in explaining its CI’s closure. For its part, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln tied its September 2020 CI closure to a $16.38 million budget reduction resulting from COVID-19. The university’s chancellor, Ronnie Green, expressed an intention to maintain “direct exchanges with Chinese universities and our partnerships in China.”
Lack of Student Interest in Confucius Institute Programming
Six U.S. universities cited a lack of student interest as the primary basis for shuttering their CIs. The University of Delaware’s associate deputy provost, Ravi Ammigan, stated that there was no active “termination” of the university’s relationship with Hanban or its CI. Rather, the CI’s closure was “simply a decision made due to decreased activity,” Ammigan said. New Mexico State University also specifically cited “low enrollment” in its February 2020 CI closure announcement, while the University of Southern Maine stated that its CI’s closure was “because [the CI] wasn’t reaching enough students.”
Other Stated Rationales for Confucius Institute Closures
- Unspecified misalignment between university goals and CI programming: the University of North Florida; Northern State University; the University of California, Davis; The University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and the University of California, Los Angeles.
- A shortage of qualified language instructors: the Clark County School District in Nevada.
- Contract expiration: the Broward County Public School District in Florida, Georgia State University, Bryant University, Kansas State University, Columbia University, and the College of William and Mary.
- Rising tensions in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship: Texas Southern University.
- Overly burdensome administrative oversight: West Virginia University and the University of Missouri.
- Programmatic restructuring and/or a new university center on East Asia: North Carolina State University, the University of Michigan, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Diego State University, The University of Texas at Dallas, Pace University, Miami University of Ohio, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
No Official Reason Provided
Many other U.S. universities declined to provide a justification for their CI closures. In some cases, the universities simply deactivated the internet landing page for their CI. In others, the universities updated the pages to reflect that the CI had ceased operations. Overall, these low-profile approaches carried little risk for the U.S. universities involved. Specifically, the universities did not acknowledge wrongdoing for hosting a CI in the first place, nor did they validate claims that CIs may be engaged in malign behavior and/or support China’s “united front.” Thus, quiet closures would not jeopardize continued or future collaboration with CLEC, their Chinese sister universities, or other Chinese universities. Depending on the language contained in the CI contract between the U.S. university and CLEC, such an approach would also allow a U.S. university to shutter its CI without violating contractual obligations. In fact, CI contracts sometimes contain language expressly prohibiting any public statements that could cause reputational damage to either the Chinese government or the Chinese sister university.
Confucius Institute Closures Do Not Tell the Whole Story
A U.S. university’s decision to establish a CI program usually leads to other forms of academic and research collaboration with CCP-affiliated entities. Such collaboration extends far beyond the contractual relationship between the U.S. university and CLEC (formerly Hanban) for a CI’s day-to-day operations. U.S. universities often have separate, mandatory contractual agreements with their CCP-selected Chinese sister universities.59 Over time, U.S. universities frequently establish separate collaborative agreements with additional Chinese universities, including ones supporting China’s defense establishment.
Worryingly, a CI closure often does not result in the severance of ties between the U.S. university that hosted the CI and the Chinese sister university that supported its programming. Following at least 28 of the 79 documented CI closures between 2018 and 2021, the relevant U.S. university continued or expanded its relationship with its Chinese sister university.60 With a few exceptions, these Chinese universities provide direct, documented support to China’s military-industrial complex. Moreover, almost all of the U.S. universities involved are R1 or R2 research universities. Often, R1 and R2 schools are direct recipients of NISP-related funding to perform classified research or other work for DoD, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Energy, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, among other government entities.61
The relationships between U.S. universities and problematic Chinese entities are often characterized as partnerships. However, little is known about these arrangements beyond the information provided in press releases, on university websites, or on the internet landing pages associated with shuttered CIs. Also unclear is why NISP-vetted U.S. universities conducting classified research for the U.S. government are permitted to maintain academic and research partnerships with problematic Chinese entities. Remarkably, U.S. universities are under no legal or regulatory obligation to disclose the details of their partnerships. Thus, it is possible that other U.S. universities maintained or expanded their partnerships with their Chinese sister universities after shuttering their CIs but did not disclose it.
For its part, the Chinese government has embraced the notion that its civilian universities should integrate into “the military-civil fusion system” and “advance the two-way transfer and transformation of military and civilian technological achievements.”62 These efforts support the government’s Double First-Class University Plan (世界一流大学和一 流学科建设), which envisions building 98 of China’s universities into world-class institutions by 2050.63 The plan encompasses China’s leading national universities as well as provincial universities with strong foundations in defense research. Moreover, the Chinese government has designated more than 280 fields of study as “disciplines with national defense characteristics” (国防特色学科) that have the potential to support military-civil fusion.64 To support classified military research, Chinese universities are awarded security clearances from the Chinese government. These clearances are typically awarded by China’s SASTIND, a regulatory agency charged with advancing China’s MCF-related industries, including its nuclear weapons, aerospace technology, aviation, armament, watercraft, and electronics industries, among others.65
The Chinese government has not, however, published its full list of such discliplines, although some information about them has been revealed in Chinese data sources.66 The designated fields range from AI and armament science to some not typically associated with the defense industry, including geology. The scope of the scientific and military collaboration between the Chinese government and its civilian universities is also vast. In some cases, the government has built defense laboratories at these civilian universities. The Chinese government, in concert with these universities, has also established scholarships to encourage Chinese students to enter the defense industry. These students are encouraged to study abroad in furtherance of their current and future contributions to China’s national defense.67
Given Beijing’s systematic efforts to harness civilian universities for military purposes, the opacity of partnerships between American schools and their Chinese counterparts should be a source of concern for the U.S. government. The academic relationships that persist after the closure of a CI take one of three forms. In the first, the U.S. university expresses its desire to maintain a “partnership” with its Chinese sister university after the CI closure. In some cases, this partnership involves incorporating CI programming into existing university initiatives. In the second type, upon closing its CI, the U.S. university formally establishes a new institute devoted to China or related international issues. The U.S. university typically establishes this new initiative with its former sister university. In the third type, the U.S. university announces its CI’s closure but does not specifically mention its plans to maintain academic or research relationships with the Chinese sister university that supported the CI’s programming.
Announcing Confucius Institute Closures While Maintaining Partnerships With Chinese Sister Universities
After announcing their CI closures, 15 U.S. universities revealed plans to maintain partnerships with their Chinese sister universities or, in some cases, with unspecified Chinese universities. Four U.S. universities — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Portland State University; Tufts University; and the College of William and Mary — announced plans to maintain partnerships with Chinese universities that work with China’s defense establishment and MCF program. This work includes support for China’s information warfare operations, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development program, and nuclear industry.
Table 2: U.S. Universities That Closed Their Confucius Institutes Yet Maintained Partnerships With Chinese Sister Universities That Support China’s Military-Industrial Complex
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE DATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER UNIVERSITY SECURITY CLEARANCE (YEAR GRANTED)||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|College of William and Mary||R2||2021||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
|Portland State University||R2||2021||Soochow University||Yes (2016)||X||X|
|The University of Tennessee, Knoxville||R1||2019||Southeast University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|Tufts University||R1||2021||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
The University of Massachusetts Boston maintained its relationship with its Chinese sister university, Renmin University (人民大学), even though Renmin was on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Unverified List (UVL) at the time.68 The UVL is designed to restrict the exportation of items that could damage U.S. national security by contributing significantly to the military potential of any other country or combination of countries.69
Five U.S. universities elected to incorporate some CI programming and associated activities into existing university initiatives upon closing their CIs.70 Such programming typically includes Chinese-language training but often also includes CCP-influenced curricula about Chinese culture. When the University of North Carolina at Charlotte closed its CI in December 2020, the university announced plans to transition its CI’s Chinese-language and cultural programs “to the Department of Languages and Culture Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.”71 Similarly, the University of Michigan’s CI closure announcement mentioned plans to bring more of its China program in-house, although the university noted that it was “in communication with Hanban, exploring alternative ways to support the greater U-M community to continuously engage with Chinese artistic culture.”72 The University of Texas at San Antonio announced plans to incorporate its CI offerings into its existing East Asia Institute.73 Lastly, North Carolina State University stated that its CI and Asia programming would be moved in-house to the university’s existing Office of Global Engagement.74
Four additional U.S. universities announced plans to maintain ties with unspecified Chinese universities upon closing their CIs.75 Such ties may or may not include the Chinese sister universities associated with the shuttered CIs. In the case of Stony Brook University, one of only 10 U.S. universities recognized by the U.S. National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education, the school’s May 2021 CI closure announcement mentioned plans to maintain “partnerships with more than 40 Chinese universities.”76
Establishing New University Centers Following Confucius Institute Closures
In all, five U.S. universities announced their CI closures at the same time that they established new university centers focused on China and/or East Asia. Pace University shuttered its CI in December 2019 but elected to retain CI staff to support its new center, the Global Asia Institute (GAI), launched immediately upon the CI’s closure.77 For example, Dr. Joseph Tse-Hei Lee served as the director of Pace’s CI until its closure, after which point he was named as GAI’s director.78 Pace also listed Qiqi Wang as GAI’s program manager.79 He previously served as one of the Pace CI’s representatives prior to its closure.80 Similarly, Ansel Lurio, who previously served as the project coordinator for Pace’s CI,81 was hired as GAI’s program coordinator.82
The four other U.S. universities preserved their sister-university relationships with their Chinese counterparts as part of their new initiatives. The four Chinese sister universities in question — Xiamen University, Southeast University, Beijing Jiaotong University, and East China Normal University — all actively support China’s MCF program and classified Chinese military research. This support includes hosting cyber-espionage platforms implicated in the theft of U.S. IP, as well as conducting research for the Chinese military on MCF-related disciplines such as drag reduction performance, numerical control machining, intelligent measurement and control for national defense and the military industry, and micro/nano-manufacturing technology.83
Table 3: U.S. Universities That Closed Their Confucius Institutes Yet Launched New Initiatives With Their Chinese Sister Universities
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE DATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER UNIVERSITY SECURITY CLEARANCE (YEAR GRANTED)||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|San Diego State University||R2||2019||Xiamen University||Yes (2018)||X||X||X|
|Texas Southern University||R2||2019||Beijing Jiaotong University||Yes (2005)||X||X|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||R1||2019||Southeast University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|University of Central Arkansas||No||2021||East China Normal University||Unknown||X||X|
Ambiguous Confucius Institute Closure Announcements Masked Plans to Maintain Sister-University Relationships
After shuttering their CIs, eight U.S. universities maintained their sister-university relationships with their Chinese counterparts but did not publicize these plans.84 All eight of these Chinese sister universities play key roles in MCF and China’s military-industrial complex. While information regarding these partnerships was not included in university press releases, it was noted on the websites of the U.S. and Chinese universities, typically on their landing page(s) associated with international partnerships.
These partnerships range from student exchange programs in fields directly or indirectly affiliated with MCF disciplines to comprehensive research partnerships in MCF-related high-tech fields such as mechanical engineering. Such arrangements provide Chinese universities supporting China’s military-industrial complex — and, by extension, the Chinese government — with access both to foundational knowledge and to cutting-edge research conducted on U.S. college campuses. With one exception, all these U.S. universities are R1 research institutes. Many also support NISP-related activities.
Table 4: U.S. Universities Whose Ambiguous Confucius Institute-Closure Announcements Masked Plans to Maintain Sister-University Relationships
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE DATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER UNIVERSITY SECURITY CLEARANCE (YEAR GRANTED)||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|Arizona State University||R1||2019||Sichuan University||Yes (2011)||X||X|
|Perdue University||R1||2018||Shanghai Jiao Tong University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|Rutgers University||R1||2020||Jilin University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X|
|San Francisco State University||No||2019||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
|Texas A&M University||R1||2018||Ocean University of China||Yes (2017)||X||X|
|University of Delaware||R1||2020||Xiamen University||Yes (2018)||X||X||X|
|University of Oregon||R1||2019||East China Normal University||Unknown||X||X|
|University of Washington||R1||2020||Peking University||Yes (2006)||X||X||X|
The 34 Confucius Institute Holdouts
As of August 2021, there were 34 active CIs in the United States, spread across 20 states.85 Twenty-eight of those CIs were hosted by U.S. universities or colleges; five were located in K-12 school districts; and one was hosted by a private educational organization, the China Institute of Manhattan. Eight, or approximately 25 percent of all CIs still active in the United States, were located in New York. The remaining 26 CIs share little in common in terms of geographic distribution. The oldest remaining CI was established at Michigan State University in 2006, while the two newest CIs were established at San Diego Global Knowledge University and Medgar Evers College in 2019. The 34 active CIs were split almost evenly between states that voted red (18 CIs) and blue (16 CIs) in the 2020 presidential election. This suggests that partisan politics and geography matter little in this space.
Institutions that continue to host CIs are aware of the risks, primarily due to increased political, media, regulatory, and law enforcement attention to the CI issue. Undoubtedly, at least some of the holdouts weighed the pros and cons and determined that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Whereas the risk of losing Pentagon funding for language programs led many schools to close their CIs, 25 of the 28 colleges and universities with active CIs have no such funding to lose. The three holdouts that do receive such funding all plan to close their CIs. Clearly, financial incentives and disincentives influence schools’ decision-making.
In some cases, universities seeking to terminate their CI may be unable to do so, due to contracts that prohibit early termination. But the trends are clear. No new CIs have been established in the United States since 2019, and several universities have announced plans to wind down their CIs in late 2021 or early 2022. It remains unclear, however, whether those universities will opt to maintain academic partnership agreements with their Chinese sister universities.
Number of Active CIs in the United States, by State (as of August 2021)
Transparency and Governance Challenges Involving Contracts and Funding
A review of 13 publicly available CI contracts (six involving active CIs,86 and seven involving now-inactive CIs)87 reveals that U.S. universities have provided CLEC (formerly Hanban) — and, by extension, the CCP — with broad control over CI operations. The contracts also provide a platform for academic and research initiatives with potential MCF applications. These contracts appear more or less identical in terms of both content and structure. They were all prepared in both English and Mandarin and signed by senior representatives from CLEC (formerly Hanban) and the corresponding U.S. university. Almost all the contracts stipulate five-year terms with possible extensions.
Many of these contracts explicitly state that the U.S. universities must defer to the Chinese government on certain CI matters. For example, Texas Southern University’s (TSU’s) 2012 contract stated that the university “must accept the assessment of the [CI] Headquarters on the teaching quality.”88 Six other CI contracts,89 including those governing active CIs at The University of Toledo and Baruch College, contain similar language.90 Central Connecticut State University’s CI agreement stated: “The [CI] shall review evaluations and recommendations made by the Confucius Institute Headquarters on the quality of the programs and make any necessary modifications.” The contracts associated with Georgia State University, Southern Utah University, and Binghamton University all contained similar language. Seven CI agreements did, however, include clauses affirming the U.S. university’s control over CI curricula and manner of instruction.91
Some of the CI contracts include language granting authorities to the Chinese sister university. In the case of TSU, its CI contract empowered its Chinese sister university, Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), to decide the “themes of academic reports and the implementation plans” associated with the CI.92 Of note, BJTU maintains ties to China’s MCF program and provides research support to the PLA.93 Georgia State University’s contract provided its Chinese sister university, Beijing Language and Culture University, with a role in CI curricula design and strategic planning as well as final say on volunteers supporting the CI’s operations. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s now-defunct CI contract contained similar language.94
Another common theme in the 13 CI contracts — one with implications for R&D and other IP developed on U.S. college campuses — is language facilitating academic and cultural exchanges between U.S. and Chinese sister universities. Under a 2014 addendum agreement between TSU and BJTU, BJTU was responsible for providing “one or two visiting scholars/instructors” each year, while TSU was to provide lodging and local travel arrangements for the Chinese professors while they taught at TSU.95 Baruch College’s CI contract includes language mandating that the CI be used as a platform for Sino-American entrepreneurs, policymakers, investment managers, investors, analysts, and scholars. Portland State University’s CI contract outlined the university’s role in facilitating CI outreach to Portland’s public school district.96
Rules governing contract termination are delineated in each of the 13 CI contracts. Southern Utah University’s (SUU’s) CI contract states that the CI can be terminated so long as either SUU or the Chinese government gives six months’ notice.97 However, in the cases of Baruch College and the University of Southern Maine (USM), neither the U.S. universities nor CLEC may “propose to terminate the agreement early” absent force majeure such as a national emergency or war. Should Baruch or USM attempt to terminate early, they would owe the Chinese government compensation for any losses incurred. Similar language is contained in Medgar Evers College’s contract, which stipulates that the agreement can be terminated only if both parties agree or in response to a national emergency, war, or “some other cause” that renders the performance of the agreement “impossible.” Apart from such cases, “neither party can request terminating this Agreement ahead of time.”98
All 13 CI contracts include(d) specific language governing the CI’s business operations. Baruch College’s CI contract stipulated that the the Chinese government would provide the school with $150,000 in initial CI start-up funding. Beijing is also responsible for certain expenses associated with Baruch’s CI operations, including teacher travel expenses and salaries.99 TSU’s 2012 CI agreement also stipulated initial Chinese government seed money of $150,000.100
These initial expenditures do not, however, tell the whole story. In addition to these investments, the Chinese government is responsible for partially funding annual CI programming and operations. Such funding can often reach into the millions of dollars over a CI’s lifecycle. Under the U.S. Higher Education Act of 1965, U.S. universities must disclose all foreign funding or gifts above a certain threshold, including funding or gifts from CLEC (formerly Hanban) or its affiliates.101 However, many U.S. universities inconsistently report such data, while others fail to attribute the funding to CLEC or its affiliates. In some cases, U.S. universities have failed to provide the names of the foreign funding sources when disclosing these and other gifts.102
When universities do file proper disclosures, the figures can be substantial. For example, in disclosures to the U.S. Department of Education between 2014 and 2019, the University of Kentucky reported receiving over $7 million from Hanban for its now shuttered-CI’s operations. The table below captures the aggregate gifts and funds from Hanban (or its affiliates) received by six additional U.S. universities from the time they first established their CIs until December 2020, as reported to the U.S. Department of Education. All six universities host active CIs (as of August 2021) and maintain sister-university relationships with Chinese universities supporting China’s defense establishment. All told, these U.S. universities received more than $10 million from the CCP.103
Table 5: Disclosed Gifts and Funds From Hanban (and Its Affiliates)
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER LINKED TO PRC MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX||AGGREGATE DONATIONS FROM HANBAN (AND ITS AFFILIATES)|
|Stanford University||R1||Peking University||Yes||$4,100,000|
|Bryant University||No||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes||$3,877,756|
|Emory University||R1||Nanjing University||Yes||$1,077,150|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||No||Hebei University||Yes||$896,391|
|Alfred University||No||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes||$541,841|
|The University of Utah||R1||Sichuan University||Yes||$212,526|
U.S. universities that continue to host a CI usually stand to benefit financially from the Chinese government. Of the 28 U.S. universities that host a CI, 25 did not receive DoD funding via either the Foreign Area Language Studies program or the National Resource Center Title VI programs in 2020 and were not expected to do so in 2021 or 2022.104 These universities are thus well-insulated from potential losses stemming from the FY 2019 NDAA provision barring DoD from providing funding for Chinese-language programs at universities that host CIs, as well as from a subsequent FY 2021 NDAA provision that bars universities hosting CIs from receiving any DoD funding.105 Of the three U.S. universities that have historically received DoD funding and/or were expected to receive such funding in the future, one (Columbia University) announced plans to shutter its CI in 2021, and the other two (Michigan State University and the University of Utah) signaled plans to terminate their CI programs in late 2021 and 2022, respectively.106
Established Partnership Links to MCF and/or China’s Defense Establishment
Of the 28 universities currently hosting a CI, 10 maintain sister-university relationships with Chinese universities directly supporting China’s MCF program and/or China’s broader defense establishment.107 One K-12 school district, Chicago Public Schools, and the China Institute of Manhattan both maintain sister-school relationships with East China Normal University, which supports China’s MCF program. Assessing the full scope of the current relationships between these 12 U.S. entities and their Chinese counterparts remains challenging; the U.S. universities are under no legal or regulatory obligation to publish the agreements governing their CI operations or sister-university relationships. Intermittent and often incomplete financial disclosure filings by universities to the U.S. Department of Education also hinder visibility into these relationships. Nevertheless, many of these Chinese universities contribute to China’s MCF program, while three support Beijing’s nuclear program and two support Chinese cyber-espionage.
Table 6: U.S. Educational Institutions That Host Confucius Institutes and Maintain Sister-School Relationships With Chinese Universities That Support China’s Military-Industrial Complex
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE DATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER UNIVERSITY SECURITY CLEARANCE (YEAR GRANTED)||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|Alfred University||No||2009||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes (2009)||X|
|Bryant University||No||2007||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes (2009)||X|
|Chicago Public School District||N/A||2005||East China Normal University||Unknown||X||X|
|China Institute of Manhattan||N/A||2005||East China Normal University||Unknown||X||X|
|Emory University||R1||2008||Nanjing University||Unknown||X||X|
|Pacific Lutheran University||No||2010||Sichuan University||Yes (2011)||X||X|
|San Diego Global Knowledge University||No||2019||Xiamen University||Yes (2018)||X||X||X|
|Stanford University||R1||2013||Peking University||Yes (2006)||X||X||X|
|The University of Toledo||R2||2009||Yanshan University||Yes (2006)||X|
|The University of Utah||R1||2010||Sichuan University||Yes (2011)||X||X|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||R1||2014||Shandong University||Yes (2006)||X||X|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||No||2012||Hebei University||Yes (2013)||X||X||X|
The closure of 79 CIs over the last three years is a net positive in terms of combating Chinese influence on U.S. college campuses. These closures hindered the CCP’s “united front” objectives, including its efforts to shape public perceptions about China. These closures also diminished the Chinese government’s ability to undermine free-speech protections and academic freedom on U.S. college campuses.
Nevertheless, CI closures alone are unlikely to meaningfully erode China’s grip on U.S. higher education. Nor will they block Beijing from accessing foundational knowledge taught at U.S. universities or cutting-edge research being conducted on U.S. college campuses. The reason is straightforward: While CI closures can degrade some of the collaboration between U.S. universities and the Chinese government, that collaboration often endures via separate partnership agreements. Moreover, U.S. universities have been reluctant to terminate their ties to Chinese entities absent threats of financial cuts from the federal government.
With this in mind, policymakers must not focus solely on shutting down CIs, but also on scrutinizing the separate, CCP-mandated partnership agreements that U.S. universities maintain with Chinese sister universities. Additional attention must be placed on improving transparency surrounding these agreements. There must also be effective countermeasures aimed at neutralizing China’s ability to leverage these relationships to advance its MCF aims. More broadly, the U.S. government must prevent American universities from partnering with Chinese universities with known or suspected ties to China’s military, intelligence apparatus, or defense industry. Meaningful policy solutions must account for the circumstances surrounding each U.S. university’s decision to establish a CI program in the first place. These circumstances include a strong desire on the part of U.S. universities to offer their students free-of-charge Chinese-language programming. The CCP has weaponized that desire to its advantage.
Not all collaboration between U.S. and Chinese universities poses a risk, and policymakers need not ban all such relationships absent a clear national security imperative. Of China’s more than 3,000 universities, roughly 90 (less than 3 percent) have direct ties to the country’s military and security establishment.108 Legislation geared towards shuttering all CIs has thus failed to garner sufficient congressional backing.
Unsurprisingly, China has employed renaming tactics to skirt legal and regulatory scrutiny. Notably, China established CLEC to circumvent congressional efforts to pressure U.S. universities to sever ties with CLEC’s predecessor, Hanban. In a related case, the U.S. non-governmental organization Asia Society changed the name of its K-12 CI classroom initiative to the Chinese Language Partner Network, while continuing to receive Hanban funding for such programming.109 Chinese companies seeking to avoid culpability for supporting MCF have employed similar renaming schemes. In the long run, renamed entities or initiatives could fall outside the regulatory or legal bounds of narrowly focused counter-CI legislation. Such legislation would not address the academic and research partnerships that flowed from a university’s decision to establish a CI program in the first place.
The solution is to focus on closing brick-and-mortar CIs and ending the academic partnerships that may linger. These CI-enabled relationships often lead to research partnerships with problematic universities supporting China’s military apparatus. These partnerships far exceed the number of active CIs, potentially numbering in the hundreds, if not the thousands. While not all entail national security risk, some involve a handful of Chinese universities known to support China’s defense industry and IP theft.
As this report shows, U.S. universities have been motivated to shutter their CIs when threatened with funding losses and when facing political pressure from elected officials. While U.S. universities voluntarily entered into their CI relationships and often retain the ability to independently terminate them, they generally have resisted doing so — even when presented with derogatory information about these partnerships. A successful campaign to counter China’s influence in higher education must focus on four elements: transparency surrounding CI-enabled agreements; legal and regulatory guardrails to neutralize China’s weaponization of CI-enabled partnerships to steal U.S. R&D; educating U.S. universities about the risks of partnering with Chinese universities supporting China’s security establishment; and alternative Chinese-language initiatives to outcompete CI language programming.
- Congress and/or state legislatures should pass legislation mandating that U.S. universities make publicly available both active and inactive CI contracts as well as any academic partnership agreements, including associated memoranda of understanding, with any Chinese university or Chinese government-affiliated entity.
- Congress should require universities to file annual disclosures of all activities conducted under the auspices of their CI contracts or under any partnership agreement with a Chinese university. These disclosures should clearly account for any joint research or academic exchanges.
- Congress should enhance Department of Education disclosure requirements pertaining to funds received from the Chinese government, Chinese government-affiliated entities, and Chinese universities. New disclosure rules should mandate that all funds be attributed to named donors. As part of this initiative, the threshold for the reporting requirement under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 should be lowered from $250,000 to $5,000.
Establishing Legal and Regulatory Guardrails
- Congress should mandate that DoD, in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Intelligence Community, publicly release an annual threat matrix of Chinese universities that directly support China’s military-industrial complex. This new statutory requirement should be modeled on Section 1260H of the FY 2021 NDAA, which requires DoD to publish an annual list of “Chinese military companies.”110 If necessary, Congress should allocate additional funding to support this effort.
- Congress should pass legislation to withhold certain types of federal funding from any U.S. university or other institute of higher education that maintains a contractual or formal relationship with any Chinese university on DoD’s university threat matrix. For example, Congress could prohibit such universities from receiving any federal R&D dollars or other types of Department of Education funding, such as funds to support STEM-related programming.
- Congress and DoD should immediately strengthen oversight surrounding NISP-related due-diligence protocols to ensure that NISP-associated funding is not provided to U.S. universities that either host a CI or maintain partnerships with Chinese universities on DoD’s university threat matrix. Damage assessments should be considered in cases wherein U.S. universities contribute to NISP-related projects while maintaining CIs or academic or research partnerships with Chinese universities working with China’s defense industry. This includes instances in which these universities hosted Chinese students or professors in fields directly or indirectly related to MCF disciplines.
- As appropriate, the Commerce Department should consider adding to the Entity List the Chinese universities included on DoD’s university threat matrix.
- The State Department should expand the grounds for denying undergraduate and graduate visas to Chinese students and researchers from Chinese universities that are designated on DoD’s university matrix or the U.S. Entity List or have otherwise been determined by the U.S. government to maintain ties to China’s military-industrial complex. Such moves would institutionalize Presidential Proclamation 10043, which sought to limit the ability of graduate students affiliated with MCF-related universities to study in the United States.111
- Federal and/or state legislators should introduce or re-introduce legislation that bans all CI operations. This legislation should account for the possibility that the Chinese government may seek to rename or rebrand its CI programming to evade enhanced legal and regulatory scrutiny.
Better Educating Universities and Establishing Alternatives
- Federal and state legislators should engage with university officials in their jurisdictions both to educate them about the role civilian Chinese universities play in China’s defense industry as well as to pressure them to terminate specific partnership agreements with malign Chinese entities.
- Congress should allocate greater programmatic resourcing to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center to bolster its existing efforts to conduct outreach to U.S. academic communities to arm them with information about foreign intelligence threats to their organizations and ways to mitigate risk.
- The departments of State and Education should establish a working group to facilitate the opening of additional Taiwan Centers for Mandarin Learning (TCMLs) on U.S. college campuses.112 Unlike CIs, TCMLs, which are overseen by Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, offer a free, democratic, and diverse learning environment for language training.
- To help offset the potential costs associated with increased TCMLs, Congress should make funding available to U.S. institutions of higher education to support TCML operations. Such funding should be contingent upon the U.S. universities’ shuttering their CIs and/or terminating all partnerships with Chinese universities with documented links to China’s defense establishment (as established by the proposed DoD university threat matrix and the Commerce Department’s Entity List).
U.S. Universities With Active Confucius Institutes Tied to China’s Defense Establishment
- Stanford University: Stanford’s CI was established in 2013 in partnership with Peking University (北京大学), known for its deep involvement in Chinese defense research and for its support for China’s nuclear weapons development program. Stanford also maintains a program called the Stanford Center at Peking University, which fosters “innovative research” collaboration between U.S. and Chinese students as well as faculty exchanges.113 (For more information on Peking’s MCF pursuits and ties to China’s nuclear program, see Appendix VII.)
- University of California, Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara’s (UCSB’s) CI was established in 2014 in partnership with Shandong University (山东大学), which works on China’s nuclear weapons program and houses several Chinese defense laboratories. There is no record of a UCSB Section 117 financial disclosure to the Department of Education revealing gifts or funding from Hanban. Shandong has supported Chinese defense research since at least 2006, when it established a national defense research institute to coordinate relevant military-related projects across the university. Shortly thereafter, Shandong received a secret-level security clearance, allowing it to participate in classified weapons research. In 2008, Shandong University was recognized as one of Shandong province’s 10 outstanding defense-industrial entities.114 Shandong has been supervised by SASTIND since at least 2016 as part of China’s efforts to expand university involvement in its defense research and training.115 In 2017, SASTIND established five defense research centers and laboratories at Shandong University in the areas of cybersecurity, vehicular propulsion, control theory and engineering, military-use critical materials, and military-industrial manufacturing and automation.116 Shandong University works with the China Academy of Engineering Physics, the country’s primary research facility focused on nuclear warheads, on specialized nuclear weapons research, including on fusion ignition and the development of crystals used in the study of nuclear explosions.117
- Emory University: Emory University established its CI in 2008 in partnership with Nanjing University (南京大学), which is subordinate to the Chinese Ministry of Education and has been supervised by SASTIND since 2012.118 Emory’s Halle Center for Global Learning maintains a collaborative research grant program with Nanjing.119 Nanjing hosts at least three defense laboratories to advance MCF objectives.120 It was also the first Chinese university to establish a program to conduct classified research, creating the State Secrecy Academy in 2009.121 The State Secrecy Academy awards degrees to Chinese students who pursue careers in China’s “military industry, state agencies, and secret administration agencies.” In 2018, Nanjing established an Institute of Artificial Intelligence and later entered into an agreement with the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of Military-Civilian Fusion to work on joint defense research with MCF applications. Of note, the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and the U.S. company Intel co-built a research center called the Intel-Nanjing University Artificial Intelligence Research Center, which was Intel’s first China-based research center focused on AI.122 Nanjing signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Megvii (旷视科技), a Chinese facial and image recognition company placed on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List in 2019 because its technology helps the Chinese government racially profile Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. 123 Nanjing’s major defense laboratories include the following entities that support classified defense research in material sciences and electromagnetic waves: the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory of High-Performance Polymer Materials and Technology (高性能高分子材料与技术教育部重点实验室); the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense Key Laboratory of Electromagnetic Wave Characteristic Information Control Technology (国防科工局电磁波特征信息调控技术重点学科实验室); and the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory of Intelligent Light Sensing and Regulation (智能光传感与调控教育部重点实验室).124
- Xavier University of Louisiana: Xavier University established its CI in 2012 in collaboration with Hebei University (河北大学), a Chinese entity that first partnered with SASTIND in 2013. The stated goal of the Hebei-SASTIND partnership was to support the university’s involvement in China’s national defense establishment.125 Overall, Hebei has maintained relative secrecy about its defense research; however, a 2016 speech given by the dean of Hebei’s School of Physics, Dong Guoyi, named “military-use power and energy” as Hebei’s only defense discipline.126 In 2017, Hebei held a forum on MCF for technology and innovation to “uncover the university’s potential for defense-industry technological research,” and to encourage greater integration with Chinese defense companies.127 Hebei University is affiliated with the Hebei Cyber Security Research Institute (河北省网络空间安全研究院).128 This entity is focused on advancing China’s cybersecurity capabilities and operations, including those of the PLA’s Unit 61070, which supports the Chinese Central Military Commission’s public opinion and psychological warfare operations against Taiwan.129
- Alfred University and Bryant University: The CIs associated with these two U.S. universities were established in 2009 and 2007, respectively, in partnership with the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) (中国地质大学). The Chinese University of Geosciences obtained its Chinese security clearance in 2009, enabling it to participate in classified Chinese defense projects.130 These projects include defense research and training on geology, such as hosting the defense-focused Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory on Geological Exploration and Evaluation.131 The laboratory was established in 2018 and trains students in “military geology,”132 which involves the application of geology to warfare and the peacetime practices of the military.133
- The University of Toledo: The University of Toledo established its CI in 2009 in partnership with Yanshan University (燕山大学), which was formed in 1960 as an offshoot of the Harbin Institute of Technology, one of China’s top defense universities. Yanshan prioritizes defense research and is jointly supervised by the Hebei Provincial Government together with the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and SASTIND.134 Yanshan’s Defense Science and Technology Institute was established in 2006 with the support of China’s Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND’s predecessor) to expand and oversee classified Chinese defense research at the university, including “military-civilian integrated industrial development.”135 The institute works on space-related defense research through several defense laboratories, including the Key Laboratory of Fundamental Science of Mechanical Structure and Materials Science Under Extreme Conditions (极端条件下机械结构和材料科学国防重点学科实验室).136 Yanshan oversees two other laboratories that support China’s defense industry: the National Defense Research and Application Center of Precision Plastic Forming Technology (国防科技工业精密塑性成形技术研究应用中心) and the Aerospace High Technology Research Institute (航天高技术研究中心).137 Yanshan’s various entities support five different aspects of China’s advanced defense research: control theory and control science (the Defense Science and Technology Institute’s Military Measurement, Control and Automation Department); electrical circuits and systems (the Defense Science and Technology Institute’s Military-use Electrical and Communications Engineering Department); mechanical design and theory (the Defense Science and Technology Institute’s Military Mechanics Engineering Department); materials science and engineering (the Defense Science and Technology Institute’s Military-use Materials Department); and mechatronic engineering (the School of Mechanical Engineering).138
- The University of Utah and Pacific Lutheran University: These CIs were established in 2010 in partnership with Sichuan University (四川大学), a Chinese entity with ties to China’s nuclear weapons program and several Chinese national defense laboratories. While The University of Utah has disclosed foreign funding from Hanban (and its affiliates), there is no disclosure for Pacific Lutheran University even though it hosts an active CI. Sichuan University is the same malign Chinese university with ties to Arizona State University. (For more information on Sichuan’s ties to China’s nuclear program, see Appendix VII.)
- Chicago Public School District and the China Institute of Manhattan: These CIs were established in 2005 in partnership with East China Normal University (ECNU), which also has a partnership agreement with the University of Central Arkansas. ECNU’s ties to China’s defense establishment are extensive. (For more information on ECNU, see Appendix VI.)
- San Diego Global Knowledge University: San Diego Global Knowledge University (SDGKU) established its CI in 2019 in partnership with Xiamen University. There is no record of SDGKU filing a Section 117 disclosure of funds received from Hanban (or its affiliates). SDGKU’s CI was previously hosted by San Diego State University, which shuttered its CI but maintained a partnership with Xiamen, a Chinese entity that supports China’s MCF program and cyber-espionage platforms and provides operational support to the PLA. (For more information on Xiamen University, see Appendix VI.)
R1 and R2 Research Institutes That Currently Host a Confucius Institute or Hosted One Between 2018 and 2021
|R1 Research Institutes (55)|
|Arizona State University|
|Colorado State University|
|George Mason University|
|George Washington University|
|Georgia State University|
|Kansas State University|
|Michigan State University|
|Ohio State University|
|Pennsylvania State University|
|Stony Brook University|
|SUNY at Albany|
|SUNY at Buffalo|
|Texas A&M University at College Station|
|The University of Oklahoma|
|The University of Tennessee, Knoxville|
|The University of Utah|
|University of Arizona|
|University of California, Davis|
|University of California, Riverside|
|University of California, San Diego|
|University of California, Los Angeles|
|University of California, Santa Barbara|
|University of Colorado Boulder|
|University of Connecticut|
|University of Delaware|
|University of Hawai’i at Manoa|
|University of Illinois Chicago|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign|
|University of Iowa|
|University of Kentucky|
|University of Maryland|
|University of Miami|
|University of Michigan|
|University of Minnesota|
|University of Missouri|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln|
|University of New Hampshire|
|University of North Texas|
|University of Oregon|
|University of Pittsburgh|
|University of South Carolina|
|University of South Florida|
|University of Washington|
|Washington State University|
|Washington University in St. Louis|
|Wayne State University|
|West Virginia University|
|R2 Research Institutes (16)|
|Cleveland State University|
|College of William & Mary|
|Kennesaw State University|
|New Mexico State University|
|Old Dominion University|
|Portland State University|
|San Diego State University|
|The University of Rhode Island|
|The University of Texas at San Antonio|
|The University of Toledo|
|University of Idaho|
|University of Massachusetts Boston|
|University of Missouri-St. Louis|
|University of Montana|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
Confucius Institute Closures Between 2018 and 2021
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||R1 OR R2 RESEARCH INSTITUTE||STATE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE YEAR||STATED REASON FOR CLOSURE||CITATION|
|Alabama A&M University||No||AL||Nanjing Forest University||2021||NDAA provision||Mike Cason, “Alabama A&M closing its Confucius Institute because of federal funding ban,” AL.com, April 22, 2021. (https://www.al.com/news/2021/04/alabama-am-closing-its-confucius-institute-because-of-risk-to-federal-funding.html)|
|Arizona State University||R1||AZ||Sichuan University||2019||NDAA provision||Hannah Critchfield, “ASU Joins 15 Other Universities in Closing Confucius Institute,” The Phoenix New Times, August 23, 2019. (https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/asu-joins-15-other-universities-in-closing-confucius-institute-11348296)|
|Auburn University at Montgomery||No||AL||Hubei University of Economics||2019||No reason provided||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Troy Johnson, executive director, Office of University Communications, Auburn University at Montgomery, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|August University||No||GA||Unclear||2018||Lack of student interest||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and the Office of the President of Augusta University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Binghamton University||R1||NY||National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts||2021||No reason provided||Dan Eastman, “UB Will Close Confucius Institute at the end of 2021,” The Spectrum, May 16, 2021. (https://www.ubspectrum.com/article/2021/05/ub-will-close-confucius-institute-at-the-end-of-2021)|
|Broward County Public School District||No||FL||Unclear||2019||Contract expiration||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Broward County Public School District’s Office of Communications, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|California State University, Long Beach||No||CA||Unclear||2020||No reason provided||Marlo Safi, “Confucius Institutes Have Been Rapidly Dissolving — Here Are The Dozens Still Left On American Campuses,” The Daily Caller, August 14, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2020/08/14/confucius-institute-american-college-campuses-foreign-mission-china-complete-list-closings)|
|Central Connecticut State University||No||CT||Shandong Normal University||2021||No reason provided||Jerry Dunleavy, “China on campus: Confucius Institutes collapse nationwide,” Washington Examiner, May 4, 2021. (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/confucius-institutes-collapse-us-campuses)|
|Clark County School District||No||NV||Unclear||2019||Shortage of qualified language instructors||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Shannon La Neve, director of humanities, Curriculum and Instruction Division, Clark County School District, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Cleveland State University||R2||OH||Capital University of Economics and Business||2021||No reason provided||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Dave Kielmeyer, interim vice president for marketing and communications, Cleveland State University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|College of William and Mary||R2||VA||Beijing Normal University||2021||Contract expiration||“Confucius Institute Closure,” College of William and Mary, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://www.wm.edu/offices/revescenter/homepageannouncements/confucius-institute.php)|
|Colorado State University||R1||CO||Hunan University||2021||NDAA provision||Paolo Zialcita, “CSU Will Close Its Confucius Institute Rather Than Risk Loss of Federal Funding,” CPR News, March 6, 2021. (https://www.cpr.org/2021/03/06/csu-will-close-its-confucius-institute-rather-than-risk-loss-of-federalfunding)|
|Columbia University||R1||NY||Renmin University||2021||Contract expiration||Email communication between Ira Katznelson, interim provost at Columbia University, and Bindu Nair, director of basic research, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, dated May 3, 2021, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Community College of Denver||No||CO||The University of Jinan||2020||Lack of funding||Marlo Safi, “Confucius Institutes Have Been Rapidly Dissolving — Here Are The Dozens Still Left On American Campuses,” The Daily Caller, August 14, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2020/08/14/confucius-institute-american-college-campuses-foreign-mission-china-complete-list-closings)|
|George Mason University||R1||VA||Beijing Language and Culture University||2020||No reason provided||“Confucius Institute at Mason,” George Mason University, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://confucius.gmu.edu)|
|George Washington University||R1||DC||Nanjing University||2021||No reason provided||Yankun Zhao, “University Shuts Down Confucius Institute After Years of Opposition,” The GW Hatchet, July 22, 2021. (https://www.gwhatchet.com/2021/07/21/university-shuts-down-confucius-institute-following-years-of-opposition)|
|Georgia State University||R1||GA||Nanjing University||2020||Contract expiration||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Wolfgang F. Schlör, associate provost for international initiatives, Georgia State University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis||R1||IN||Unclear||2019||NDAA provision||Alex Brown, “IUPUI Closes Confucius Institute,” Inside Indiana Business, April 5, 2019. (https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/40260335/iupui-closes-confucius-institute)|
|Kansas State University||R1||KS||Jilin University||2019||Contract expiration||Kansas State University, Press Release, “Confucius Institute Changes,” accessed November 23, 2021. (https://www.k-state.edu/confucius)|
|Kennesaw State University||R2||GA||Yangzhou University||2019||No reason provided||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Alex McGee, chief of staff and vice president for external affairs, Kennesaw State Univeristy, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Miami Dade College||No||Fl||Unclear||2019||Lack of student interest||Andrew Atterbury, “Miami Dade College is shuttering down its Confucius Institute,” Politico, September 6, 2019. (https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2019/09/06/miami-dade-college-is-shutting-down-its-confucius-institute-1174166)|
|Miami University||R2||OH||Liaoning University||2020||Programmatic restructuring||Miami University, Press Release, “Miami University will close its Confucius Institute this summer,” March 6, 2020. (https://www.miamioh.edu/news/campus-news/2020/03/confucius-institute-to-close.html)|
|Middle Tennesse State University||No||TN||Unclear||2020||No reason provided||Mike Osborne, “MTSU says it’s ‘winding down’ last Confucius Institute in Tennessee,” WMOT News, July 2, 2020. (https://www.wmot.org/from-wmot-news/2020-07-02/mtsu-says-its-winding-down-last-confucius-institute-in-tennessee)|
|New Mexico State University||R2||NM||Shijiazhuang University of Applied Technology||2020||Lack of student interest||Algeron D’Ammassa, “New Mexico State’s Confucius Institute is closing, here’s why,” The Las Cruces Sun-News, February 7, 2020. (https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/education/nmsu/2020/02/07/nmsu-shuttering-their-confucius-institute-programs-chinese-instruction/4670853002)|
|North Carolina State University||No||NC||Nanjing Normal University||2018||Programmatic restructuring||North Carolina State University, Press Release, “NC State will restructure Asia programming in 2019,” November 8, 2018. (https://news.ncsu.edu/2018/11/nc-state-will-restructure-asia-programming-in-2019)|
|Northern State University||No||SD||The University of Jinan||2019||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||Northern State University, Press Release, “Confucius Institute at Northern State University to Close in 2020,” May 9, 2019. (https://www.northern.edu/news/confucius-institute-northern-state-university-close-2020)|
|Old Dominion University||R2||VA||Minzu University of China||2020||No reason provided||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Yvonne Casalino, executive assistant to the provost, Old Dominion University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Pace University||No||NY||Nanjing Normal University||2019||Programmatic restructuring||Pace University, Press Release, “New Global Asia Institute Launched,” December 14, 2019. (https://dyson.pace.edu/centers/global-asia-institute/welcome/confucius-institute-closure-GAI-announcement)|
|Portland State University||R2||OR||Soochow University||2021||No reason provided||“Confucius Institute at Portland State University,” Portland State University, January 28, 2021. (https://www.pdx.edu/international-affairs/confucius-institute-portland-state-university)|
|Praire View A&M University||No||TX||Xi’an International Studies University||2018||National security||Jackie Wang, “Texas A&M Cuts Ties with Chian’s Confucius Institutes After Congressmen’s Concerns Over Spying,” The Dallas Morning News, April 5, 2018. (https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2018/04/05/texas-am-system-cuts-ties-with-china-s-confucius-institute-after-congressmen-s-concern-over-spying)|
|Purdue University||R1||IN||Shanghai Jiao Tong University||2018||No reason provided||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Kim Weldy, executive assistant, Board of Trustees, Purdue University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Rutgers University||R1||NJ||Jilin University||2020||Lack of funding||Ashley Carnahan, “Interactive Map: Dozens of Chinese Communist Party funded Confucius Institutes still operate in US,” Campus Reform, March 24, 2021. (https://www.campusreform.org/article?id=16962)|
|San Diego State University||R2||CA||Xiamen University||2019||Programmatic restructuring||Michael Cline, “SDSU launches new Chinese Cultural Center as Confucius Institute closes,” The Daily Aztec, April 21, 2019. (https://thedailyaztec.com/94940/news/sdsu-launches-new-chinese-cultural-center-as-confucius-institute-closes)|
|San Francisco State University||No||CA||Beijing Normal University||2019||NDAA provision||San Francisco State University, Press Release, “San Francisco University to close Confucius Institute,” May 2, 2019. (https://news.sfsu.edu/announcements/san-francisco-state-university-close-confucius-institute)|
|Savannah State University||No||GA||Jiujiang University||2020||No reason provided||Trevor Williams, “Emory, Georgia State Become Latest Universities to Close Confucius Institutes Amid U.S. Pressure on China,” Global Atlanta, Augus 20, 2020. (https://www.globalatlanta.com/emory-georgia-state-become-latest-universities-to-close-confucius-institutes-amid-u-s-pressure-on-chinese-centers)|
|Stony Brook University||R1||NY||Zhongnan University of Economics and Law||2021||No reason provided||“The Confucius Institute,” Stony Brook University, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://www.stonybrook.edu/confucius)|
|SUNY at Buffalo||R1||NY||Capital Normal University||2021||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||State University of New York at Buffalo, Press Release, “UB to Close Confucius Institute,” May 14, 2021. (http://www.buffalo.edu/ubnow/stories/2021/05/confucius-institute-closing.html)|
|Texas A&M University||R1||TX||Ocean University||2018||National security||Jackie Wang, “Texas A&M Cuts Ties with Chian’s Confucius Institutes After Congressmen’s Concerns Over Spying,” The Dallas Morning News, April 5, 2018. (https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2018/04/05/texas-am-system-cuts-ties-with-china-s-confucius-institute-after-congressmen-s-concern-over-spying)|
|Texas Southern University||No||TX||Beijing Jiaotong University||2018||Rising tensions in U.S.-China relationship||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Texas Southern University’s Kendall T. Harris, provost and vice president of academic affairs and research, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|The University of Memphis||No||TN||Hubei University||2020||No reason provided||Sam Stockard, “Blackburn lauds closing of University of Memphis Confucius Institute,” The Daily Memphian, June 30, 2020. (https://dailymemphian.com/article/15185/blackburn-lauds-closing-of-university-of-memphis)|
|The University of Oklahoma||R1||OK||Beijing Normal University||2020||Lack of funding||Ari Fife, “OU Confucius Institute to close soon amid government reports regarding spread of Chinese government propaganda,” The OU Daily, July 2, 2020. (https://www.oudaily.com/news/ou-confucius-institute-to-close-soon-amid-government-reports-regarding-spread-of-chinese-government-propaganda/article_ba0f2ef8-bc89-11ea-a316-9f5d786a57f7.html)|
|The University of Rhode Island||R2||RI||Unclear||2018||NDAA provision||Elizabeth Redden, “University of Rhode Island Closes Confucius Institute,” Inside HigherEd, December 18, 2018. (https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2018/12/18/university-rhode-island-closes-confucius-institute)|
|The University of Tennessee, Knoxville||R1||TN||Southeast University||2019||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Press Release, “UT Transitions Strategic Focus for its Global Engagement in Asia,” January 24, 2019. (https://news.utk.edu/2019/01/24/ut-transitions-strategic-focus-for-its-global-engagement-in-asia)|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||No||TX||Southeast University||2019||Programmatic restructuring||The University of Texas at Dallas, Press Release, “University Establishes New Center for Asian Studies,” August 29, 2019. (https://news.utdallas.edu/campus-community/center-for-asian-studies-2019)|
|The University of Texas at San Antonio||R2||TX||The University of International Business and Economics||2019||Programmatic restructuring||The University of Texas at San Antonio, Press Release, “Chinese arts and language programming to be fully integrated into East Asia Institute,” February 28, 2019. (https://provost.utsa.edu/news/2019/02/story/2019-02-28-east-asia-institute.html)|
|Tufts University||R1||MA||Beijing Normal University||2021||No reason provided||Tufts University, Press Release, “Decision to Close Confucius Institute at Tufts University,” March 17, 2021. (https://provost.tufts.edu/blog/news/2021/03/17/decision-to-close-the-confucius-institute-at-tufts-university)|
|University of Alaska Anchorage||No||AK||Northeast Normal University||2020||Lack of funding||Email commnication between Rachelle Peterson and a representative of University of Alaska Anchorage, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|University of Arizona||R1||AZ||Shaanxi Normal University||2020||NDAA provision||Shaq Davis, “Confucius Institute at University of Arizona closing,” Tucson.com, February 27, 2020. (https://tucson.com/news/local/confucius-institute-at-university-of-arizona-closing/article_134fca9c-5905-11ea-8358-97f08dbd363c.html)|
|University of California, Davis||R1||CA||Jiangnan University||2020||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||University of California, Davis, Press Release, “Campus to Close Confucius Institute, Seek New Opportunities,” April 28, 2020. (https://globalaffairs.ucdavis.edu/news/campus-close-confucius-institute-seek-new-opportunities)|
|University of California, Los Angeles||R1||CA||Unclear||2020||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and Ricardo Vazquez, director of media relations, University of California, Los Angeles, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|University of Central Arkansas||No||AR||East China Normal University||2021||Programmatic restructuring||“The Center for Chinese Language and Culture,” University of Central Arkansas, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://uca.edu/global/center-for-chinese-language-and-culture)|
|University of Delaware||R1||DE||Xiamen University||2019||Lack of student interest||Sunyu Kang and Mike Ottone, “Confucius Institute set to close in early 2020,” The Review, October 8,2019. (http://udreview.com/confucius-institute-set-to-close-in-early-2020)|
|University of Hawai’i at Manoa||R1||HI||Beijing Foreign Studies University||2019||NDAA provision||“Confucius Institute at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa,” University of Hawai’i at Manoa, accessed November 23, 2021. (http://manoa.hawaii.edu/confuciusinstitute)|
|University of Idaho||R2||ID||Unclear||2020||No reason provided||Ryan Hill, “University of Idaho decides to no longer host the Confucius institute,” The Daily Argonaut, April 21, 2021. https://www.uiargonaut.com/2021/04/21/university-of-idaho-decides-to-no-longer-host-the-confucius-institute)|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign||R1||IL||Unclear||2018||Lack of funding||Haipei Wu, “University Confucius Institute closed months before FBI monitoring,” The Daily Illini, March 3, 2018. (https://dailyillini.com/news-stories/2018/03/03/university-confucius-institute-closed-months-fbi-monitoring)|
|University of Iowa||R1||IA||East China Normal University||2018||Lack of funding||University of Iowa, Press Release, “UI forced to make difficult budget decisions following state funding cuts,” July 10, 2018. (https://now.uiowa.edu/2018/07/ui-forced-make-difficult-budget-decisions-following-state-funding-cuts)|
|University of Kansas||No||KS||Central China Normal University||2019||NDAA provision||Lauren Fox, “KU will close controversial Confucius Institute in January,” Lawrence-Journal World, December 17, 2019. (https://www2.ljworld.com/news/ku/2019/dec/17/ku-will-close-controversial-confucius-institute-in-january)|
|University of Kentucky||R1||KY||Shanghai University||2021||NDAA provision||University of Kentucky, Press Release, “The UK Confucius Institute,” March 4, 2021. (http://uknow.uky.edu/campus-news/uk-confucius-institute)|
|University of Maryland||R1||MD||Nankai University||2020||NDAA provision||Phil Davis, “University of Maryland cuts China-supported education program amid tensions between countries,” The Baltimore Sun, January 22, 2020. (https://www.baltimoresun.com/education/bs-md-confucius-institute-umd-20200123-3sb7hhbyq5cn7pfl7n55edtlaq-story.html)|
|University of Massachusetts Boston||R2||MA||Renmin University||2019||No reason provided||Lobsang Tenchoe, “UMass Boston, the 23th US Academic Institution to sever ties with Confucius Institute,” The Tibet Express, January 17, 2019. (https://tibetexpress.net/9672/umass-boston-the-13th-us-academic-institution-to-sever-ties-with-confucius-institute)|
|University of Michigan||R1||MI||The Open University of China||2018||Programmatic restructuring||Debing Su, “U-M to end Agreement with Confucius Institute next year,” Michigan News, December 10, 2018. (https://record.umich.edu/articles/u-m-end-agreement-confucius-institute-next-year)|
|University of Minnesota||R1||MN||Capital Normal University||2019||NDAA provision||Helen Sabrowsky, “China-funded institute set to close,” The Minnesota Daily, February 21, 2019. (https://mndaily.com/242511/news/adconfucius)|
|University of Missouri||R2||MO||Shanghai Normal University||2020||Overly burdensome administrative oversight||Roger McKinney and Rudi Keller, “University of Missouri to sever ties to Confucius Institute,” Kirksville Daily Express, January 15, 2020. (Archived version available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20201202083214/https://www.kirksvilledailyexpress.com/news/20200115/university-of-missouri-to-sever-ties-to-confucius-institute)|
|University of Montana||R2||MN||Unclear||2019||Lack of funding||Kaila Szpaller, “University of Montana Shutters Confucius Institute,” The Missoulian, April 30, 2019. (https://missoulian.com/news/local/university-of-montana-shutters-confucius-institute/article_218eb6a5-2c0e-56e9-a920-10fe4eec3a2f.html)|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln||R1||NE||Xi’an Jiaotong University||2020||Lack of funding||Rick Ruggles, “UNL Confucius Institute will close by year’s end as part of budget cuts,” Omaha World-Herald, September 4, 2020. (https://omaha.com/news/local/unl-confucius-institute-will-close-by-years-end-as-part-of-budget-cuts/article_a3b916e9-f5a6-548a-aaaa 7bc2e9505d99.html)|
|University of New Hampshire||R1||NH||Chengdu University||2021||National security||Campus-wide email communication from University of New Hampshire President James W. Dean, Jr., cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||R2||NC||Shanxi University||2020||Programmatic restructuring||University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Press Release, “Confucius Institute Programs to Transition as part of Strategic Planning Effort,” July 1, 2020. (https://inside.uncc.edu/news-features/2020-07-01/confucius-institute-programs-transition-part-strategic-planning-effort)|
|University of North Florida||No||FL||Shaanxi Normal University||2018||Misalignment between university goals and CI programming||“UNF’s Confucius Institute Closing by February 2019,” The Spinnaker, April 14, 2018. (https://unfspinnaker.com/69847/news/unfs-confucius-institute-closing-by-feb-2019)|
|University of Oregon||R1||OR||East China Normal University||2019||NDAA provision||University of Oregon, Press Release “OU Confucius Institute to close,” April 29, 2019. (https://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-confucius-institute-close)|
|University of Pittsburgh||R1||PA||Wuhan University||2020||NDAA provision||“Confucius Institute,” University of Pittsburgh, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/cipitt)|
|University of South Carolina||R1||SC||Beijing Language and Culture University||2021||No reason provided||“UofSC to Close Confucius Institute,” The Cola Daily, February 20, 2021. (https://www.coladaily.com/communities/columbia/uofsc-to-close-confucius-institute/article_ac27ade4-732a-11eb-ac8d-cf5d10cdfd8f.html)|
|University of South Florida||R1||FL||Qingdao University||2018||National security||Howard Altman and Megan Reeves, “USF Shutters Controversial Confucius Institute on New Years Eve,” Tampa Bay Times, January 2, 2019. (https://www.tampabay.com/breaking-news/usf-shutters-controversial-confucius-institute-on-new-years-eve-20190102)|
|University of Southern Maine||No||ME||Dongbei University of Finance and Economics||2021||Lack of student interest||David Marino, “USM Closing Institute Funded by Chinese Government,” Bangor Daily News, April 13, 2021. (https://bangordailynews.com/2021/04/13/news/portland/usm-closing-institute-funded-by-chinese-government)|
|University of Washington||R1||WA||Peking University||2020||No reason provided||Marlo Safi, “Confucius Institutes Have Been Rapidly Dissolving — Here Are The Dozens Still Left On American Campuses,” The Daily Caller, August 14, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2020/08/14/confucius-institute-american-college-campuses-foreign-mission-china-complete-list-closings)|
|University of West Florida||No||FL||Northwest Normal University||2018||Lack of student interest||Joseph Baucum, “UWF Cuts Ties with Controversial Chinese-affiliated Confucius Institute,” Pensacola News Journal, February 7, 2018. (https://www.pnj.com/story/money/business/2018/02/07/uwf-cuts-ties-chinese-run-confucius-institute-criticized-controversial-chinese-government-affiliated/312966002)|
|University of Wisconsin-Platteville||No||WI||South-Central University||2021||No reason provided||Jerry Dunleavy, “China on campus: Confucius Institutes collapse nationwide,” Washington Examiner, May 4, 2021. (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/confucius-institutes-collapse-us-campuses)|
|Wayne State University||R1||MI||Huazhong University of Science and Technology||2021||No reason provided||“Confucius Institute,” Wayne State University, accessed November 23, 2021. (https://oip.wayne.edu/confucius-institute)|
|West Virginia University||R1||WV||Tianjin University of Finance and Economics||2021||Overly burdensome administrative oversight||Email communication between Rachelle Peterson and April Kaull, executive director of communications, West Virginia University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
|Western Kentucky University||No||KY||North China Electric Power University||2019||NDAA provision||Western Kentucky University, Press Release, “WKU ends agreement with Confucius Institute,” April 22, 2019. (https://www.wku.edu/news/articles/index.php?view=article&articleid=7622)|
|Western Michigan University||R2||MI||Beijing Language and Culture University||2021||Lack of funding||Phone call between Rachelle Peterson and Kahler B. Schuem, chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Trustees, Western Michigan University, cited in: Rachelle Peterson, “Confucius Institutes in the US that Are Closing,” National Association of Scholars, July 2021. (https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/confucius-institutes-that-closed-updated-july-9-2021.pdf)|
U.S. Universities That Continued or Expanded Their Relationships With Chinese Sister Universities After Closing Confucius Institutes
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE YEAR||POST-CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE CLOSURE||CHINESE SISTER UNIVERSITY||SISTER UNIVERSITY LINKED TO PRC MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (YEAR AWARDED SECURITY CLEARANCE)||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|Arizona State University||2019||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Sichuan University||Yes (2011)||X||X|
|College of William and Mary||2021||Maintained partnership||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
|Miami University||2020||CI programming incorporated into existing university initiatives||Liaoning University||No|
|Michigan State University||2021||Planned to maintain ties with unspecified Chinese universities||The Open Univeristy of China||No|
|Middle Tennesse State University||2020||Planned to maintain ties with unspecified Chinese universities||Unclear||N/A|
|North Carolina State University||2018||CI programming incorporated into existing university initiatives||Nanjing Normal University||No|
|Pace University||2019||New university centers||Nanjing Normal University||No|
|Portland State University||2021||Maintained partnership||Soochow University||Yes (2016)||X||X|
|Purdue University||2018||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Shanghai Jiao Tong University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|Rutgers University||2020||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Jilin University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X|
|San Diego State University||2019||New university centers||Xiamen University||Yes (2018)||X||X||X|
|San Francisco State University||2019||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
|Stony Brook University||2021||Planned to maintain ties with unspecified Chinese universities||Zhongnan University of Economics and Law||No|
|Texas A&M University||2018||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Ocean University||Yes (2017)||X||X|
|Texas Southern University||2019||New university centers||Beijing Jiaotong University||Yes (2005)||X||X|
|The University of Tennessee, Knoxville||2019||Maintained partnership||Southeast University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||2019||New university centers||Southeast University||Yes (2016)||X||X||X||X|
|The University of Texas at San Antonio||2019||CI programming incorporated into existing university initiatives||The University of International Business and Economics||No|
|Tufts University||2021||Maintained partnership||Beijing Normal University||Yes (2013)||X||X|
|University of Central Arkansas||2021||New university centers||East China Normal University||Yes (Unknown)||X||X|
|University of Delaware||2020||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Xiamen University||Yes (2018)||X||X||X|
|University of Massachusetts Boston||2019||Maintained partnership||Renmin University||No|
|University of Michigan||2018||CI programming incorporated into existing university initiatives||Open University of China||No|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||2020||CI programming incorporated into existing university initiatives||Shanxi University||No|
|University of Oregon||2019||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||East China Normal University||Yes (Unknown)||X||X|
|University of Washington||2020||Ambiguous closure announcement; maintained partnerships||Peking University||Yes (2006)||X||X||X|
|West Virginia University||2021||Planned to maintain ties with unspecified Chinese universities||Tianjin University of Finance and Economics||No|
U.S. Universities That Announced Confucius Institute Closures While Maintaining Sister-University Partnerships With Chinese Universities
- The University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Upon announcing its CI’s closure in January 2019, the university expressed plans to maintain relations with China’s Southeast University (SEU, or 东南大学), which conducts defense research.139 On its website, SEU cited its intent to develop high-tech talent for “government-funded schools, state-owned scientific research institutions, state key enterprises, government agencies, government-funded public institutions, and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) units.”140 SEU is one of at least 10 Chinese institutions that receive funds from three or more of China’s national-level grant programs for information warfare-themed research.141 In 2016, SEU entered into a joint agreement between the Chinese Ministry of Education and SASTIND to work on “national defense discipline laboratories, military research tasks, and cooperation with military industry enterprises,” among other things.142 SEU is also involved in Chinese cyber-espionage. SEU’s Information Security Research Center hosts hacking contests, including the 2014 TOPSEC Cup.143 That contest was co-sponsored by Beijing Topsec Network Security Technology Co. Ltd., which received half of its start-up capital from the PLA.144 Topsec also trains, recruits, and works with PLA cybersecurity officers, according to 2009 U.S. Department of State cables.145 SEU has publicized that its defense research relies on its excellence in electronics, noting that the university maintains two laboratories that specialize in classified defense research involving navigation technology and underwater acoustics.146 Both specialties are integral to China’s development of technology for underwater warfare. Representatives from the PLA Navy’s Submarine Academy visited SEU in 2017 to discuss continued collaboration on sensitive military projects.147
- Portland State University: When announcing its CI’s closure in January 2021, the university stated that it intended to “replace the Confucius Institute with a variety of other programs and resources, including what will hopefully be renewed and expanded direct academic ties with the faculty, students and staff at [Chinese sister university] Soochow University.”148 At the time, Portland State University did not disclose additional information about its continuing relationship with Soochow. Soochow has worked with SASTIND since 2016 as part of an effort to expand the university’s involvement in defense research and training, including its work on China’s “military-civilian integration development strategy,” otherwise known as MCF.149 In 2019, Soochow worked with China’s Changfeng Science Technology Industry Group (a subsidiary of missile manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Technology) and Suzhou Xinyuan Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. to jointly establish the Suzhou University Military-Civil Fusion Internet of Things Collaborative Innovation Center in furtherance of China’s MCF objectives.150 Soochow also maintains five defense-related programs centered on research on radiation. In particular, its School of Radiation Medicine and Protection has become a major teaching and research base for China’s nuclear industry.151
- Tufts University and the College of William and Mary: Prior to the closure of their respective CIs, both schools maintained CI sister-university relationships with Beijing Normal University (BNU). Tufts officially announced its CI’s closure in March 2021, with a planned closure date of September 2021. In its statement, Tufts noted plans to deepen its relationship with BNU, including its “Tufts in Beijing” study abroad program.152 In its June 2021 closure announcement, William and Mary (W&M) also noted that it would “continue to explore and strengthen its independent collaborations with … BNU … and other [unspecified] universities in China in order to maintain robust language, cultural and research opportunities for students, faculty and the wider Williamsburg community.”153 In July 2021, the college established the W&M-BNU Collaborative Partnership. BNU maintains documented ties to China’s military-industrial complex. BNU first applied for a Chinese security clearance in 2013 and later obtained a secret-level clearance, which is required for work on classified research, with the stated goal of better serving China’s national defense establishment and “undertaking important military projects.”154 Several BNU professors have worked on Chinese national defense projects. One of those professors supported projects funded by China’s National Defense Basic Scientific Research Program,155 and another served as the lead researcher for a project focused on Chinese UAV innovation. BNU also maintains active ties to China’s MCF program. Specifically, BNU’s Changping Science and Technology Innovation Park (北京师范大学昌平创新科技园) closely collaborates with MCF industrial parks, including the Zhongguancun S&T Park, which sustains MCF operations across China.156 BNU’s R&D Experimental Service Base (北京师范大学研发实验服务基地) has also collaborated with MCF entities and works to facilitate sensitive technology transfers between Chinese universities and Chinese industry.157
U.S. Universities That Established New University Centers After Confucius Institute Closures
- San Diego State University: When announcing its CI’s closure in August 2019, San Diego State University (SDSU) launched its Chinese Cultural Center.158 The center’s website does not list a formal affiliation with SDSU’s former Chinese sister university, Xiamen University. However, in January 2020, representatives from Xiamen traveled to San Diego to discuss continued collaboration between the two universities.159 Xiamen Vice President Yang Bin met with SDSU President Adele de la Torre, who stated that SDSU would “continue to support the Chinese Cultural Center Project in cooperation with Xiamen University by providing funds, venues and other resources.” SDSU has not released details of its partnership agreement. Xiamen maintains longstanding ties to China’s defense establishment. In 2018, Xiamen entered into a joint supervision agreement between the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Fujian Provincial Government, and SASTIND to engage in classified Chinese defense research. The arrangement was designed to “upgrade the university’s ability to innovate defense science and technology and actively integrate itself with the development of military-civil fusion.”160 Xiamen is also involved in the development of military-use heavy-duty coatings. Resistant to corrosive chemicals and able to withstand extreme heat and cold, these water-repellent, non-stick coatings are designed to ensure that military vehicles, aircraft, and communications equipment can operate in harsh conditions. For example, in 2017, Xiamen University, Fujian Normal University, Fujian Liheng Paint Co. Ltd. (福建立恒涂料有限公司), and PLA Unit 63983 jointly established the defense-focused Haixi Liheng New Materials Research Institute (海西立恒新材料研究院).161 Xiamen is also involved in economic espionage. In 2020, a Brooklyn jury concluded that Huawei and Xiamen had conspired to steal trade secrets from U.S. semiconductor company CNEX Labs.162 Xiamen University was also the Chinese sister university for the University of Delaware’s now-shuttered CI.
- The University of Texas at Dallas: This university announced its CI’s closure in August 2019 at the same time it established a new Center for Asian Studies.163 The university stated that the new center would expand “its commitment to programs that previously were components of the University’s earlier initiatives, the Confucius Institute and the Asia Center.” The Chinese sister university for the CI was Southeast University, which also has documented ties both to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and to China’s defense establishment, including China’s cyber-espionage platforms. The University of Texas at Dallas’ memorandum of agreement with SEU was signed by Marilyn Kaplan, the dean of the university’s Hobson Wildenthal Honors Program College, and Yinghui Kuang, a vice dean of Southeast University. The agreement does not expire until 2023; details regarding the memorandum and Southeast University’s role in the Center for Asian Studies have not been released.164 (For more information on Southeast University, see Appendix V.)
- Texas Southern University: Texas Southern University (TSU) is a Houston-based historically black university that received a 2018 letter from Reps. McCaul and Cuellar as part of a campaign to shutter all Texas CIs. The closure date of TSU’s CI remains unclear. While a 2019 U.S. Government Accountability Office report listed TSU’s CI as “operating,” the website was deactivated in September 2018.165 The most recent webpage lists the Chinese sister university of TSU’s newly established “China Institute” as Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU, or 北京交通大学), which also served as the Chinese sister university for TSU’s now-shuttered CI.166 BJTU became involved in Chinese military research in 2005.167 In 2007, BJTU obtained a secret-level security clearance to work on classified Chinese military research projects.168 BJTU hosts one national defense laboratory, the Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Advanced Manufacturing, Measurement and Control Technology for Carrier Vehicles. This lab was established in 2009 and is located in the School of Mechanical, Electronic and Control Engineering.169 When the lab was established, BJTU announced it would expand its military-related projects. The lab has since conducted sensitive research for the PLA on drag reduction performance, numerical control machining, intelligent measurement and control for national defense and the military industry, nano-additives in high-performance lubricants for aerospace bearings, and micro/nano-manufacturing technology.170 In 2017, BJTU and China’s National Transportation War Readiness Office held a research seminar promoting cooperation on MCF research and applications.171 In 2018, BJTU and the Chinese Army Military Transportation Academy signed an MCF strategic cooperation agreement.172 The two parties planned to conduct joint research on defense transportation, intelligent transportation, and military logistics. They also planned to establish a joint research center for defense transportation.173 BJTU also signed an agreement in 2018 with the 302 Institute of the Third Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation to cooperate on UAV R&D. BJTU cooperates with Beijing Civil United Airlines Co., Ltd. (北京民用联合航空有限公司), an MCF enterprise, to train its personnel.174
- University of Central Arkansas: The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) announced its CI’s closure in July 2021. In lieu of a press release, details were sent via email to select UCA students and faculty. The website for UCA’s CI was then updated to reflect the fall 2021 opening of UCA’s new Center for Chinese Language and Culture.175 One of this new center’s Chinese partners will be East China Normal University (ECNU), which was the Chinese sister university for UCA’s shuttered CI. ECNU’s ties to China’s defense establishment are extensive. ECNU’s State Key Laboratory of Precision Spectroscopy signed a joint cooperation agreement in 2018 with the vacuum technology defense laboratory housed within the 510th Research Institute of the China Academy of Space Technology, a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is a defense conglomerate with extensive ties to the PLA.176 To support this work, ECNU and the 510th Research Institute established a research center focused on engineering applications, with an emphasis on defense and intelligence applications.177 ECNU’s Institute of Urban Development also maintains a cooperative relationship geared toward supporting an active MCF research center with ties to the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology’s Yangtze River Economic Belt Joint Innovation Committee.178 In 2020, Australia revoked the visa of an ECNU professor, Chen Hong, as part of a foreign-interference investigation conducted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and the Australian Federal Police. Chen had served as the director of the university’s Australian studies center since 2001.179 ECNU was also the Chinese sister university for the University of Oregon’s now-shuttered CI.
U.S. Universities Whose Ambiguous Confucius Institute Closure Announcements Masked Plans to Maintain Sister-University Relationships
- Texas A&M University: Although Texas A&M University shuttered its CI in 2018, it maintained its academic partnership agreement with its Chinese sister university, Ocean University of China (中国海洋大学).180 Ocean University hosts oceanography and fisheries science programs; however, the university obtained a secret-level Chinese security clearance in 2017, allowing it to conduct classified defense research.181 Ocean University and the PLA Navy maintain cooperative agreements on marine science. In April 2021, a representative from China’s Eastern Theater Command Navy visited Ocean University to discuss deepening defense cooperation and Ocean University’s contribution to the PLA Navy’s national defense development.182 Ocean University has also cooperated with the PLA Navy’s Submarine Academy since at least 2010. In 2017 and 2019, Ocean University and the Submarine Academy agreed to collaborate on national defense scientific research and joint projects for technology innovation.183 Ocean University, in partnership with the Qingdao government, also plans to establish an Information Technology Military-Civil Fusion Research Institute (中国海洋大学信息技术军民融合研究院). The Guzhenkou Military and Civil Integration Innovation Demonstration Zone supports this project, which aims to make China a strong “maritime power.”184
- Purdue University: Although Purdue University shuttered its CI in 2019, the university maintained its academic partnership with its Chinese sister university, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU, or 上海交通大学).185 This partnership includes two dual-degree programs in mechanical engineering — a key MCF discipline — that remain valid until 2025. SJTU is known for its high-level defense research. The university came under the supervision of SASTIND as part of a 2016 agreement between the Chinese Ministry of Education and SASTIND to advance defense research.186 SJTU maintains three defense laboratories, focused on micro/nano-fabrication (微米／纳米加工技术国防科技重点实验室), hydrodynamics (水动力学教育部重点实验室), and noise and vibration control (船舰设备噪声与振动控制技术国防重点学科实验室).187 Of note, the dean and chief professor of SJTU’s School of Information Security Engineering both previously worked for the PLA, and SJTU has been implicated in cyberattacks against the United States.188 SJTU’s PLA-related activity includes a 2014 agreement with the PLA Academy of Military Science regarding cooperative military research.189 Lastly, SJTU in 2018 entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with China’s National Nuclear Commission for the construction of a Nuclear Power Vessels and Marine Equipment Research Institute. The goal was to build up China’s nuclear industry so that China can “become a powerful country.”190
- Arizona State University: Although Arizona State University (ASU) shuttered its CI in 2019, the university maintained its academic partnership with its Chinese sister university, Sichuan University.191 This partnership includes immersion opportunities for ASU students and faculty in China as well as joint research on infectious diseases. In 2011 and again in 2016, Sichuan was included in joint collaboration agreements between the Chinese Ministry of Education and SASTIND. The stated goal of these agreements was to increase Sichuan’s involvement in sensitive Chinese defense research.192 Sichuan maintains a close relationship with the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), China’s primary research facility focused on nuclear warheads. Sichuan’s Institute of Atomic and Molecular Physics and CAEP jointly established the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Engineering and the Institute of High Temperature and High-Pressure Physics to conduct atomic research.193 Owing to Sichuan’s involvement in China’s nuclear weapons program, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Sichuan to the Entity List as an alias of CAEP, implying that Sichuan is a proxy for CAEP’s nuclear research and development.194 Sichuan hosts at least three laboratories that focus on Chinese defense research in areas such as nuclear science and technology, physics, and material sciences.195
- University of Delaware: Although the University of Delaware shuttered its CI in 2020, the university maintained its academic partnership agreement with its Chinese sister university, Xiamen University.196 Xiamen also has ties to San Diego State University. The University of Delaware’s ties to Xiamen include dual-degree and educational programs and student exchange opportunities that enable Chinese students pursuing degrees in MCF-related disciplines to live and study in the United States. The University of Delaware maintains similar relationships with 32 other Chinese universities, including the following entities that support China’s military-industrial complex: Beijing Normal University, East China Normal University, Nanjing University, and Peking University.197 (For more information on Xiamen University and East China Normal University, see Appendix VI. For more information on Beijing Normal University, see Appendix V. For more information on Nanjing University, see Appendix I. For more information on Peking University, see the paragraph below.)
- University of Washington: Although the University of Washington shuttered its CI in 2020, the university maintained academic and student exchange programs with its Chinese sister university, Peking University.198 Peking is also the Chinese sister university for Stanford University’s still-active CI. Peking’s work on defense research began in 2006, when it was awarded a Chinese security clearance.199 Peking established a stand-alone office to handle classified information. Peking maintains agreements between the Chinese Ministry of Education and SASTIND, China’s defense industry agency, signed in 2012 and 2016, to deepen the university’s involvement in classified defense research.200 SASTIND recognizes Peking’s work in nuclear physics, nuclear technology, and nuclear chemical engineering as supporting China’s national defense industry, including its nuclear weapons development program.201 Peking’s Advanced Technology Institute, founded in 2006, oversees and develops the university’s defense research.202 The institute’s research includes classified work on semiconductors, nuclear technology, quantum physics, advanced materials, underwater acoustics, satellite navigation and communications, flight propulsion, aerospace engineering, and microprocessors. In 2017, PKU and CAEP established the PKU-CAEP New Structure Center for Applied Physics and Technology (北京大学-中国工程物理研究院新体制应用物理与技术研究中心).203 The center conducts research on lasers for atomic physics applications, laser plasma physics, computer science, and fluid dynamics. PKU acknowledges that the center serves China’s defense needs, and CAEP’s deputy director has emphasized that such work supports MCF. The center’s honorary director and founding director, He Xiantu, is credited with developing China’s first neutron bomb.204 In 2013, Peking and the PLA Navy signed a strategic MCF cooperation framework agreement at a ceremony attended by then-PLA Navy commander Admiral Wu Shengli.205 The agreement was forged on the instructions of the CCP’s Central Committee, China’s Central Military Commission, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Peking researchers have participated in expos and other events related to MCF.206 Peking is also a founding member of the Beijing University Technology Transfer Alliance, which works in dual-use and military-relevant sectors such as 3D printing and robotics.207
- Rutgers University: Although Rutgers shuttered its CI in late 2020, the university maintained its partnership with its Chinese sister university, Jilin University (吉林大学).208 This partnership, per a general cooperation agreement, includes multiple sub-agreements in MCF-related fields, including biomedical and health sciences, as well as dual-degree programs in business, environmental science, and biological science. Jilin University is known for high-level defense research and for supporting China’s nuclear weapons program. Jilin has been supervised by the Chinese Ministry of Education and SASTIND since 2016 and is directly involved in classified Chinese defense research.209 In 2017, SASTIND designated eight fields of research at Jilin to fulfill national defense disciplines, including aviation, aerospace, electronics, nuclear technology, armament science and technology, and shipbuilding. Jilin’s National Defense Science and Technology Research Institute works to “actively serve the integration of military and civilian development and contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream and the dream of strengthening the military.”210 Jilin’s State Key Laboratory of Super-hard Materials (超硬材料国家重点实验室) works closely with CAEP.211 Jilin’s College of Computer Science and Technology hosts the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Key Laboratory of Attack and Defense Simulation Technology for Naval Warfare (海战场攻防对抗仿真技术教育部重点实验室), whose researchers conduct classified cybersecurity research for the PLA Navy.212
- University of Oregon: Although the University of Oregon shuttered its CI in 2019, the university maintained its academic partnership with its Chinese sister university, East China Normal University.213 This is the same malign Chinese university that maintains ties to the University of Central Arkansas. (For more information on East China Normal University, see Appendix VI.)
- San Francisco State University: Although San Francisco State University shuttered its CI in 2019, the university maintained its partnership with its Chinese sister university, Beijing Normal University.214 This is the same malign Chinese university that maintains ties to Tufts University and the College of William and Mary. (For more information on Beijing Normal University, see Appendix V.)
Active Confucius Institutes Across the United States (as of August 2021)
|U.S. HOST INSTITUTION||STATE||YEAR CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE OPENED||CHINESE SISTER INSTITUTION||TIES TO PRC MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX||PARTICIPATION IN MCF||NUCLEAR PROGRAM||PLA SUPPORT||CYBER-ESPIONAGE|
|Alfred University||NY||2009||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes||X|
|Baruch College||NY||2017||Shanghai International Studies University||No|
|Bryant University||RI||2007||China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)||Yes||X|
|Chicago Public School District||IL||2005||East China Normal University||Yes||X||X|
|China Institute of New York||NY||2005||East China Normal University||Yes||X||X|
|Davis District School District||UT||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|East Central Ohio Educational Service Center||OH||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Emory University||GA||2008||Nanjing University||Yes||X||X|
|Houston Independent School District||TX||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Medgar Evers College||NY||2019||Hunan University of Technology and Business||No|
|Michigan State University||MI||2006||The Open University of China||No|
|New Jersey City University||NJ||2015||Jilin HuaQiao University of Foreign Languages||No|
|Northwest Nazarene University||ID||2013||Northwest University||No|
|Pacific Lutheran University||WA||2010||Sichuan University||Yes||X||X|
|Presbyterian College||SC||2009||Guizhou University||No|
|San Diego Global Knowledge University||CA||2019||Xiamen University||Yes||X||X||X|
|Simpson County School District||KY||2019||Unknown||Unknown|
|Southern Utah University||UT||2015||Hunan Normal University||No|
|St. Cloud University||MN||2013||Education Department of Jilin Province||No|
|Stanford University||CA||2013||Peking University||Yes||X||X||X|
|SUNY at Albany||NY||2013||Southwestern University of Finance and Economics||No|
|SUNY at Buffalo||NY||2010||Capital Normal University||No|
|SUNY College of Optometry||NY||2010||Wenzhou Medical University||No|
|SUNY Global Center||NY||2010||Nanjing University of Finance and Economics||No|
|The University of Akron||OH||2008||Henan University||No|
|The University of Toledo||OH||2008||Yanshan University||Yes||X|
|The University of Utah||UT||2010||Sichuan University||Yes||X||X|
|Troy University||AL||2007||Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology||No|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||CA||2014||Shandong University||Yes||X||X|
|Valparaiso University||IN||2007||Zhejiang University of Technology||No|
|Webster University||MO||2007||Beijing Language and Culture University||No|
|Weslyan University||GA||2013||Guangzhou University||No|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||LA||2012||Hebei University||Yes||X||X||X|