Dec 13 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis and his colleagues recently penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing serious concern about Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) at American colleges and universities. Recent reports suggest that the Chinese government is increasingly pushing its agenda on our nation’s campuses through student organizations such as CSSAs. The letter urges the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine whether CSSAs need to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for their work on behalf of the CCP, which would help combat this influence on campus.

“We write to express serious concern about Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) at our nation’s colleges and universities. With the closure of many Confucius Institutes, the CCP is relying on other actors, including CSSAs, to influence U.S. academic institutions. This issue requires greater attention from the United States government,” the senators wrote.

“Troubling communications from CSSAs have been reported at U.S. universities. For example, a graduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder told her professor that the CSSA president had called late at night to inquire about the department faculty's work on Tibet. In another case, a Chinese national who was a former University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student said he received a ‘deluge’ of abusive CSSA emails accusing him of ‘being a traitor to [China], including one death threat,’ after expressing belief that a CSSA list-serv email proposed racist and inappropriate slogans to protest a visit by the Japanese Prime Minister. A China expert and professor at the University of California-Riverside stated that CSSAs are a ‘tool of government’s foreign ministry.’ He added that ‘the effect of that surveillance is less that certain people are caught and punished and more that virtually all Chinese students know they could be reported, and, therefore, watch what they say in public fora,’” the senators continued

“The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires individuals to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) if they act at the behest of a foreign principal to influence U.S. policy or public opinion. There is clear evidence that CSSAs act as an arm of the PRC for the purpose of shaping U.S. policy and public opinion, and the United States should therefore evaluate whether they are required to register as foreign agents,” the senators concluded

Read the full letter HERE.