Two Texas Congressmen have sent a letter to Texas universities about their 'deep concerns' about the China-based Confucius Institute.
Republican Michael McCaul and Democrat Henry Cuellar sent letters to administration at Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M University, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas Southern University, schools that currently host the institute on their campuses.
"Confucius Institutes and other Chinese government supported academic organizations, such as the China-United States Exchange Foundation, are intended to spread China's political agenda, suppress academic debate, and steal vital academic research," Cuellar and McCaul wrote. Click here to read the full text of the letter.
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The two wrote about recent testimony by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that said some campus institutes were under investigation. The congressmen said the institutes have been under increasing scrutiny including the University of Texas at Austin severing ties with the organization earlier this year.
"In light of China's subversive behavior and malicious intent to suppress our American values of free expression, speech and debate, we respectfully and strongly urge you to consider terminating your Confucius Institute and other agreements with Chinese government supported organizations," McCaul and Cuellar said in the letter.
In response to the letter, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp released a statement to our news partners at the Dallas Morning News saying the system is ending the Confucius Institutes at Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M Universities.
One campus in North Texas, the University of Texas at Dallas, has a Confucius Institute. Their website states the UTD location was the 2014 Confucius Institute of the Year. University officials said after receiving the letter from McCaul and Cuellar, they are reviewing the program.
“The university has received a letter expressing concerns about the Confucius Institute from U.S. Representatives McCaul and Cuellar. We are currently reviewing all issues related to the Confucius Institute,” John Walls, UTD vice president of communications, said.
The University of Texas at San Antonio released a statement saying “The Confucius Institute at UTSA was established in 2009 to promote Chinese language training, lectures and workshops, and Chinese cultures and arts. The institute is one of many programs that help prepare our students to be world-ready. It is under full control of professors and officials from UTSA. We value the perspectives of the congressmen and will do our due diligence in evaluating their concerns.”
Representatives from Texas Southern University have not responded to our requests for comment.