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Senator questions Chinese influence over American students

Yuichiro Kakutani of the Washington Free Beacon reports a new round of questions about Chinese influence in American schools.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) is demanding that the College Board explain its decades-long partnership with a Chinese front group that has allowed Beijing to influence thousands of American students.

Blackburn asked the educational nonprofit to explain the nature of its long-standing partnership with the Confucius Institute, also known as Hanban—a Chinese government-backed group that the federal government says is a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. The Republican senator said the lucrative relationship could unduly influence the College Board, which administers the SAT as well as college-level “Advanced Placement” courses for high school students.

“It is my concern that the Chinese government is manipulating this [College Board] partnership to characterize China in a wholesome light and stifle conversation that might be detrimental to the reputation of the Chinese Communist Party,” Blackburn said in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “College Board’s relationship with Hanban creates momentous security concerns.”

An August report from the National Association of Scholars found that the College Board received nearly $700,000 from the Confucius Institute to develop the Chinese curriculum for its Advanced Placement program, shaping the education of thousands of U.S. high school students who take the course each year. The College Board also helped place hundreds of Chinese teachers—vetted by the Confucius Institute—in schools across the country and cohosts the largest conference for Chinese teachers with the regime-backed group. Blackburn asked College Board CEO David Coleman to explain what role institute officials play in teacher selection and test criteria, as well as whether the relationship could give regime figures “undue influence” over American students. …

… The senator’s letter, which was sent Tuesday, is the latest in the bipartisan push to rein in the activities of the Confucius Institute, which had more than 100 branches in U.S. colleges and K-12 schools across the country at its height in 2017.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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