Report: Lawmakers raise concerns about Chinese government-run program at US universities

There is concern about a Chinese propaganda program on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte's campus after lawmakers said it is run and funded by the Chinese government with zero oversight from federal authorities.

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers said the Confucius Institute has given colleges and universities $150 million, but U.S. authorities have no control about what's taught or who teaches it.

"There is a lack of transparency. That's really troubling with regards to the Confucius Institutes," Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said.

A bipartisan report found China has spent more than $158 million on Confucius Institutes in the United States.

According to the report, the Chinese government runs the program out of its Ministry of Education Office of Chinese Language Council International, known as Hanban.

The report said Hanban controls nearly every aspect of Confucius Institutes at schools.

The U.S. Accountability Office said the program is on 96 college campuses, and many colleges are weighing its future.

"A number of them we spoke with said they are continuously evaluating those agreements," Jason Bair said.

UNC Charlotte said it anticipated the concerns and issues that have been reported, so it has been intentional about at how the program is structured. The school said it is making it clear the program is here to stay.

The school said the institute does not oversee or develop any of the curriculum or offer any credit-bearing courses for university students.


"UNC Charlotte's Confucius Institute has been in place since January 2018. The Confucius Institute is housed in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences' Languages and Culture Studies Department, and its purpose is to support and enhance language instruction and cultural offerings, such as with tutors for students and community events.

"A Board of Directors is chaired by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, with other board members from UNC Charlotte. An advisory group of UNC Charlotte faculty also provides guidance. The Confucius Institute does not develop or oversee curriculum used at UNC Charlotte. It does not offer credit-bearing courses for university students. We anticipated the issues and concerns that have been reported and were intentional in how we structured the Confucius Institute.

"We are not considering the closing of UNC Charlotte's Confucius Institute. It receives the majority of its budget from UNC Charlotte, and also receives support from Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban."

UNCC receives funding from the Chinese government for the program.

WSOC-TV learned the school received $150,000 in 2017 and more than $21,000 in books and other materials last year.

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