Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, joined State Rep. Tommy Hanes’s effort urging and formally requesting — in a letter that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh — that the state of Alabama ceases supporting and close all Chinese Confucius Institutes on Alabama campuses.
The letter urges state leaders to join dozens of other states in closing the Confucius Institutes, which are supported by China’s government. Brooks and Hanes claimed that would be putting America’s interests first, thereby protecting America from Chinese Communist Party propaganda and promoting America’s national security.
“Alabama leaders should use every possible tool at their disposal to close Communist Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes at both Troy and Alabama A&M,” Brooks said. “These so-called ‘institutes’ are nothing more than Communist Chinese propaganda units. Forty-five patriotic American universities from 30 different states have already shut down their Confucius Institutes since 2014. Alabama should show similar love for America by doing the same.”
“The Communist Chinese Party cannot be allowed to gain influence over America’s education system or undermine American national security,” Brooks added. “The evidence against Communist China is overwhelming. The American Association of University Professors has decried the threat Communist China poses to academic freedom and the Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division has warned of Communist China’s efforts to conduct espionage through Confucius Institutes. Communist China is America’s geopolitical foe, not our friend. America must wise up and fight back against Communist China’s egregious espionage and propaganda on American soil.”
“Confucius Institutes are established, funded, and operated by the Communist government of the Peoples Republic of China,” Brooks wrote. “These institutes are managed by the Hanban also known as the Chinese Language Council International. There are currently 81 Confucius Institutes in the United States. In Alabama’s case, Alabama A&M is partnered with the Nanjing Forestry University and Troy University with Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology. Confucius Institutes are not just on college campuses and exist in K-12 schools as ‘Confucius Classrooms.’”
Brooks wrote that during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned “there is a fairly significant pattern of espionage” that is occurring at academic institutions.
Wray raised concerns that Confucius Institutes are “part of China’s soft power strategy and influence” and that they “offer a platform to disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom, et cetera.”
“Heeding Director Wray’s warning, I request that you join a growing number of patriotic states by terminating Confucius Institutes in Alabama,” Brooks said.
“A former senior official in the Chinese Communist Party, Li Changchun, stated that Confucius Institutes are ‘an important part of China’s overseas propaganda setup,’” Brooks added. “With these institutes operating under foreign power on American soil, I urge you to reject the Chinese Communist Party’s push of propaganda that subverts American interests and values.”
Troy University disputes the criticism of their relationship with the Confucius Institute.
“As Alabama’s ‘International University,’ Troy University’s experience with the Confucius Institute has been one of mutual benefit,” Troy University wrote in a statement. “The Confucius Institute at Troy University has afforded our students and our state with an opportunity for exposure to Chinese language, history and culture, and it has promoted stronger business ties between Alabama and Chinese companies. Troy University’s association with the Confucius Institute has been positive, and we have seen no evidence of undue political influence from the Chinese government nor has there been any evidence of intellectual theft. Cooperation between the United States and China is a desirable goal, and the dialogue and relationships developed through the Confucius Institute strengthen the ties between our two countries.”
In May the Alabama College Republicans urged Troy and Alabama A&M to cut ties with the Confucius Institutes.
Brooks is serving in his fifth term representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.