Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Introduce the Foreign Influence Transparency Act

Mar 21, 2018
Press Release

Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Introduce the Foreign Influence Transparency Act

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act of 2018, which requires organizations, such as the Confucius Institute, to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) if they promote the political agenda of a foreign country’s government. 

“The goal of this legislation is to increase transparency between foreign governments, universities, and communities,” Congressman Wilson said. “The American people have the right to know if they are consuming propaganda that is being produced by a foreign government.”

Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced companion legislation in the Senate today, released the following statement. “This legislation aims to bring greater transparency to the activities of foreign governments operating in the United States. It will strengthen foreign funding disclosure requirements for colleges and universities and close loopholes in current law so that entities like Confucius Institutes, operating in more than 100 American higher education institutions including several in Florida, would be required to register with the Department of Justice as foreign agents of the Chinese government.”

Currently, the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 contains a technicality that allows foreign governments or organizations to push their political agenda under the facade of an “academic or scholastic pursuit.” The Foreign Influence Transparency Act will clarify the intent of FARA and require disclaimers on all propaganda funded by foreign governments to promote their political agenda. 

This legislation also amends the Higher Education Act to require universities to disclose donations, contracts, or the fair market value of in-kind gifts, from any foreign source if the amount is $50,000 or greater. This information would be reported to the Secretary of Education, along with the content of contracts between universities and foreign entities. 

“It is critical that the language in the Foreign Agents Registration Act matches its intent, which is to disclose all persons or institutions acting on behalf of foreign governments in a political manner,” Congressman Wilson explained. “With the enactment of the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, organizations like the Confucius Institute will no longer be able to use the lack of clarity in FARA to disseminate propaganda.”

Confucius Institutes are organizations affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, and currently operates in conjunction with 103 American universities. In 2009, Li Changchun, then head of propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party and member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, called Confucius Institutes “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.”

You can find the text of the House version of the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, H.R. 5336, here