New Legislation Aims To Increase Transparency Of Foreign Influences On Colleges In Tennessee

Governor Bill Lee Introduced The “Transparency In Foreign Investment Act” On Tuesday.  The Legislation Would Increase The Level Of Transparency Required For Foreign Investments In College And University Campuses Across The State. 

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee

Photo Credit: Gov Bill Lee / Facebook

Published March 17, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Governor Bill Lee introduced the “Transparency in Foreign Investment Act” on Tuesday. This legislation is a major priority in Lee’s 2021 legislative plan.

The legislation would increase the level of transparency required for foreign investments in college and university campuses across the state.

Public higher education institutions would be required to release information about gifts and contracts from foreign sources.

In addition, they would be required to refuse gifts and contracts that pose a “credible national security threat”, according to a statement from the Governor’s Office. No details have been released at this time to define just what would be considered a qualifying security threat.

Public colleges and universities would also be required to submit a disclosure report. This report would be reviewed by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Another major component of the bill would also restrict colleges and universities in Tennessee from creating controversial Confucius Institute programs.

Confucius Institutes, started first in 2004, are founded as a collaboration between colleges in China and other countries. These programs are partially funded by groups affiliated with the Chinese government and aim to expose participants to the Chinese language and culture.

According to the National Association of Scholars, there are 51 Confucius Institutes in the United States as of March 2021. Six of those locations will be closing in 2021. Of those 51 programs, most are located at American colleges and universities. NAS notes that six are located in K-12 public school districts.

Confucius Institutes have drawn skepticism from authorities in higher education because of the level of control exercised by the program sponsors with many believing that the controversial program opened doorways for the Chinese government to push its own agenda in the United States.

As early as 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the potential dangers of Confucius Institutes. He stated that the FBI had concerns about the programs and had begun some investigation into their practices.

“The Confucius Institutes are something that we view as part of a sort of soft power strategy that the Chinese government has,” Wray said.

Governor Lee plans to limit that power in Tennessee.

“Colleges and universities are a place for the robust debate of ideas – not a place for foreign governments to operate in the shadows,” said Governor Lee. “After the federal government rolled back critical reporting requirements around Confucius Institutes, my administration is taking action to provide Tennessee taxpayers greater transparency in all foreign investments on our campuses.”

The University of Tennessee disbanded its Confucius Institute program in 2019 before creating its own Asia Platform for Engagement.

The University of Memphis and Middle Tennessee State University also closed their Confucius Institutes in 2020.

At the time of their closing, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn stated that individuals should be “alarmed that the Chinese government has infiltrated their institutions.”

She continued, “The Chinese government will no longer be allowed to influence American education the way Confucius Institutes have for the past 16 years. Confucius Institutes as they currently operate limit academic freedom, and we will not bow to oppressive Chinese propaganda systems.”

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2 thoughts on “New Legislation Aims To Increase Transparency Of Foreign Influences On Colleges In Tennessee

  • March 18, 2021 at 12:12 am

    All universities and any other public funded centers of education should be defunded to the extent that they get ANYTHING from China or any other socialist/communist nation. Included in the loss of tax payer dollars to these centers of communist propaganda , a close look into the budgets for all such things as all forms of political correctness should lose tax dollars to the extent that the Marxist rot is subsidized , or more specifically, for these anti-white racist programs. The Marxist Universities need to be hit, and hit hard in the pocketbook . We also need to hold universities responsible that have sports teams that have these brain-washed idiot students ” taking the knee” and disrespecting our once free nation. They should lose funding in the amount of their sports budget. We don’t need any ” transparency as in looking into things ” we need to stop pussy footing around and actually do something about this ongoing rot. I for one am sick and tired of putting up with this socialist Marxist agenda going on and no one having the back bone to actually DO anything about it.

  • March 19, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    Our country is a Republic and these types of teaching do not belong in any schools or higher education levels! I have 4 great-grandchildren in public schools and if I find out they’re being taught this communism and marxist crap I will raise a big stink in our local school boards!


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