Back in 2010 the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education approved requests from Dickinson State University and North Dakota State to create Confucius Institutes on their campuses.
In 2012 the folks at DSU, mired in a horrendous diploma mill scandal, announced they were ending the program. It doesn’t seem as though a similar program at NDSU ever got off the ground (both campuses needed approval from the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing subsequent to the SBHE approval).
Flash forward to 2018, and the CIA has released a report detailing the manner in which the Communist Part of China has used funding for the various Confucius Institutes around the country to influence research:
“The CCP provides ‘strings-attached’ funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light,” the report says. “It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends.”
The CIA warning joins a growing call by U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials to investigate China’s involvement on American college campuses.
The FBI is involved as well:
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month the bureau is investigating dozens of Confucius Institutes, the Chinese-backed language and cultural centers hosted by more than 100 universities across the country. Despite their broad entrenchment in American academics over the past decade, little is known about the nature of the contracts between Beijing and the host universities—funding amounts and contractual terms are largely kept secret.
Now it appears as though President Donald Trump will approve an amendment to the latest iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act which would deny federal funds for campuses hosting a Confucius Institute. “Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to ‘The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,’ which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” Campus Reform reports.
It seems like North Dakota – and specifically Dickinson State and North Dakota State – dodged a bullet.
In 2011 proponents of the institute at DSU were adamant that there would be no ideological pressure. “In all of our agreements, this is an academic partnership and they understand the basis of American higher education — the exchange of ideas and the freedom of expression,” Vice President for Student Development Hal Haynes said at the time. “Ideology has nothing to do with this.”
Here in 2018, it seems promoting China’s communist ideology was and is very much the goal of these institutes. Though it does seem as though some at DSU saw that problem even way back in 2011. “If we were to have forums and speakers about independent Taiwan, human rights, the underground Christian church in China, these sorts of things that the Confucius Institute certainly could be a participant, but that would not give us a certain tentativeness to stay away from those conversations that are really important,” Dr. Eric Grabowsky, a communications instructor at DSU, said at the time.