March 27, 2024 | Policy Brief

New Legislation Seeks to Stop Pentagon From Using China-Controlled Tutoring Service

March 27, 2024 | Policy Brief

New Legislation Seeks to Stop Pentagon From Using China-Controlled Tutoring Service

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced legislation on March 21 that would prohibit the Pentagon from offering educational services to U.S. servicemembers and their families through the Chinese-controlled company The legislative effort reflects a growing willingness in Washington to crack down on Chinese-controlled companies that pose threats to Americans and endanger national security. 

For years, the Pentagon has paid to provide services to Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and their families. The department pays for 24/7 tutoring for active-duty, guard, and reserve servicemembers, DoD civilians, and their families, among others. is also used in numerous American school districts.

In January 2022, Primavera Capital Group, a Chinese-owned private equity firm that has invested in ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, discreetly acquired and the Princeton Review from Korean company ST Unitas. The acquisition has created concerns that the personal information of servicemembers and their families could be shared with the Chinese government. That data could include home addresses, IP addresses, location, and even session content and recordings. claims Primavera does not have access to its IT systems. The company argues that the newly introduced legislation “mistakenly assumes that private information of those who use our tutoring services could be transferred to China.”

Yet’s own website admits that the company “is controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, a firm owned by Chinese nationals with a principal place of business in Hong Kong, China.”

Consequently, is subject to Beijing’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, which requires that Chinese-owned companies acquiesce to any demands from the Chinese government. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) recently emphasized that a Chinese-controlled company “has no option” but to comply with requests from the Chinese Communist Party.

Senator Cotton has expressed concern that by contracting with, the Pentagon is effectively “paying to expose our military and their children’s private information to the Chinese Communist Party.” DoD’s relationship with is “ill-advised, reckless, and a danger to U.S. national security,” Senator Cotton wrote in a February 15 letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, calling on him to “immediately end that relationship.”

This would not be the first time a Chinese company has used such a scheme to access Americans’ data. China’s ByteDance has previously used TikTok to access sensitive user data on Americans, including journalists.

Alarmingly, Primavera’s investments in the U.S. education sector go far beyond The Chinese firm also controls Spring Education Group, which operates over 200 private institutions in the United States, including BASIS Independent Schools, Stratford School, Laurel Springs School, and Nobel Learning Communities (Chesterbrook Academy). The network manages schools in 19 states and educates American children from infancy to grade 12.

The provision of educational tutoring to U.S. servicemembers and their families is something all Americans can support. But Americans also expect that those educational services will not endanger U.S. national security. 

Antonette Bowman is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. For more analysis from Antonette, please subscribe HERE. Follow FDD on X @FDD. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.