GOP lawmakers raise concerns over research grants to colleges with Confucius Institutes

GOP lawmakers raise concerns over research grants to colleges with Confucius Institutes
GOP lawmakers are raising concerns over the Department of Defense’s decision to award research grants to three U.S. universities that house Confucius Institutes run by the Chinese government.
The concerns, first reported by The Washington Free Beacon on Monday, come after the Department of Defense announced this month that it would give out Defense Enterprise Science Initiative awards for research on American defense capabilities to five U.S. schools, three of which have Confucius Institutes — Arizona State, Stanford and the University of Washington.
Confucius Institutes exist at more than 100 U.S. colleges, according to the Free Beacon. They are funded by the Beijing government and officially partner with universities to teach Chinese language and culture. However, critics of the institutes argue they act as propaganda machines and can pose a risk to national security.
"The entire United States government needs to get smarter about these threats," Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Biden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage MORE's (R-Tex.) press office told The Hill in a statement Monday. "The Defense Enterprise Science Initiative is aimed at ground-level research that later gets folded into defense applications. That sort of research is exactly what the Chinese Communist government targets on American campuses, and it’s exactly why Senator Cruz is pursuing legislation scrutinizing the relationships that enable such espionage."
“I have long been concerned about the presence of Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes on American university campuses given the threat that these institutes pose to academic freedom as well as possible national security concerns,” Rubio told the news outlet. 
“The FBI has warned that the Chinese government uses non-traditional intelligence collection and exploits the openness of our academic research environment, so it is imperative that academic institutions, as well as the Defense Department and other federal agencies that are funding potentially sensitive research, be mindful of this threat," he said.
The CIA also released a report earlier this year, warning that China could be using Confucius Institutes to spy from American soil, the Free Beacon reported in March.
The Department of Defense, as well as Arizona State University, Stanford University and the University of Washington did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill. 
Rubio has previously criticized Confucius Institutes. On Tuesday, the senator tweeted about the national security threat he sees in the institutes, urging Florida schools to cut ties to them.