In what may – or may not – have been a process issue, the Biden administration appears to have quietly dropped the proposed Trump rule requiring all K-12 schools and universities in the U.S. to disclose ties to China’s subversive, state-run ‘Confucius Institutes.’ This action immediately provoked a Republican backlash, but also raised questions about whether it was deliberate Biden policy, or simply a victim of the interagency review process during the presidential transition.
As the Washington Examiner reported:
…GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio, and House Foreign Affairs ranking member Michael McCaul, criticized the Biden administration going ahead with rejecting the proposal.
“By quietly backing away from the proposed rule without consulting Congress, the Biden administration is sending a concerning signal about its scrutiny of CCP influence in academia, and telling academic institutions that they don’t need to be transparent about their ties to China’s regime,” McCaul said.
President Trump had clamped down on these subversive Chinese institutes, and all Chinese influence and espionage efforts in the country. As The Examiner added that:
In August, the State Department designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington, D.C., as a “foreign mission” of the Chinese Communist Party, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying at the time “the United States wants to ensure that students on U.S. campuses have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.” U.S. officials also slapped the same “foreign missions” label on a host of Chinese state-run media outlets last year.
McCaul’s China Task Force report from September also found that “through Confucius Institutes, monitoring of students, and direct interference by PRC diplomats, the CCP is trying to force its views upon our institutions of higher learning.”
However, the Biden White House pushed back strongly against the claim that it had deliberately removed the rule, noting that the rule had never been finalized. According to The Examiner a White House spokesperson told the paper that:
The assertion that the Biden administration withdrew this draft rule from [the] Federal Register is false. The Trump administration never submitted it to the Federal Register in the first place because OMB never completed its review of the draft rule during the Trump administration. It was stuck in OMB’s interagency review on Inauguration Day.
Meanwhile the paper added that: “The Washington Examiner’s reporting had made it clear that the proposed rule had not made its way to the Federal Register nor gone into effect yet.”
However, the White House did not say what it intended to do with the proposed rule.
Whether this was in fact simply a bureaucratic process issue, or instead a quiet way to drop Trump’s proposed rule, is yet to be seen. However, by highlighting this critical issue, critics are ensuring it is not the latter.
As McCaul stated: “I strongly urge the Biden Administration to stick to its promises to prioritize the CCP as our main national security challenge, including in the American education system.”
Continued reporting and pressure is needed to ensure this will be the case.