Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On China’s Propaganda Machine
Delivered on Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Recently, the Biden administration withdrew a proposed Trump administration rule that would’ve required universities and K-12 schools to identify their connections with Confucius Institutes.
I’ve asked the Biden administration about that move but it’s failed to respond to-date.
Today, I’d like to discuss four areas where the Biden administration must be tough with China as well as other foreign countries.
Since April 2015, I’ve conducted oversight on several key aspects of foreign efforts to influence members of Congress and the American public.
First, I’ve focused on the equal, fair and aggressive enforcement of transparency laws like the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
I first raised concerns about the Foreign Agents Registration Act in April 2015.
In 1938, Congress passed that law to expose Nazi propaganda and identify foreign attempts to influence policymakers and the American public. Last updated in 1966, the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires those who lobby on behalf of foreign governments and interests to register their affiliations and activities with the Justice Department.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act reflects the fundamental principle that transparency brings accountability. Until recently, however, that law had been seldom used.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act ought to be better enforced, and equally enforced. That’s why I worked to expose holes in the existing law and find ways to shore it up.
As a result of those efforts, last session I introduced the bipartisan Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act. I’ll be reintroducing it this session.
The bill requires the Justice Department – for the first time – to craft a comprehensive enforcement strategy, and to release advisory opinions to promote transparency. It gives investigators new tools – including civil investigative demand authority – to help identify violations.
Last Congress, the bill had support from Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein of the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Rubio and Vice Chairman Warner of the Intelligence Committee.
It also had bipartisan support on the Foreign Relations Committee, including from Senators Shaheen, Rubio, Murphy and Young – who’ve all worked to shine a light on foreign influence.
We also had the sign-off from the Chairman of that Committee, along with support from the Trump administration.
Unfortunately, when Senator Cornyn and I joined on the floor to ask for Unanimous Consent for passage, the Democrats objected even though it had bipartisan, multi-committee support.
I strongly urge the Biden administration to join my efforts in making common-sense, bipartisan reforms to the Foreign Agents Registration Act and to make it a priority. My bill gets the job done.
Second, I’ve focused my oversight on increasing non-traditional espionage activities and foreign threats targeting taxpayer-funded research.
As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2018, I convened a hearing regarding China’s non-traditional espionage against the United States.
In that hearing, DOJ and FBI officials made clear that the threat to our universities and taxpayer-funded research from foreign governments, especially China, is real and ongoing.
For example, the DOJ witness stated, “we need to adapt our enforcement strategy to reach non-traditional collectors, including researchers in labs, universities, and the defense industrial base, some of whom may have undisclosed ties to Chinese institutions and conflicted loyalties.”
The FBI witness stated that China’s talent recruitment programs are effectively “brain gain programs” that “encourage theft of intellectual property from U.S. institutions.”
In June 2019, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I held a hearing on foreign threats to taxpayer-funded research which focused heavily on China’s theft and espionage within our research community.
After the hearing, I organized a classified committee briefing on the topic from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security.
The Trump administration ramped up government efforts to investigate and prosecute researchers for stealing intellectual property and research.
The Biden administration must continue those aggressive efforts if they want to be taken seriously.
Those efforts are more important now than ever. For example, during the COVID pandemic, China has used cyber-attacks to try and steal COVID-related research.
Third, I’ve focused on propaganda efforts within our schools and universities.
Specifically, that includes China’s Confucius Institutes.
As an extension of the Chinese government, the Confucius Institutes are a foreign principal for purposes of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
According to reporting, the strategic goal of the Chinese government is to place its Institutes within existing colleges and universities in order to influence perceptions of the communist Chinese government under the guise of teaching Chinese language, culture and history.
In light of these factors, in October 2018, I wrote to the Justice Department and asked why it had yet to require individuals working for Confucius Institutes to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Then, in March 2020, I wrote to dozens of schools and asked that they get a briefing from the FBI on the threats Confucius Institutes bring to the academic environment.
I’ve also strongly backed Senator Kennedy’s CONFUCIUS Act, which passed the Senate last week.
In part, that bill mandates that if a school wants an Institute on campus, it must have full managerial and academic control, not the Chinese government.
China’s threats to our security are real, known, and show no signs of stopping.
It’s a very good sign that in the past couple years many universities and colleges have cut ties with Confucius Institutes.
The Biden administration must use every tool at its disposal to protect and defend our national security from this communist threat.
Which is why I wrote to the Biden Department of Homeland Security on February 11, 2021, regarding its withdrawal of the Confucius Rule.
Among the questions I asked of the Department, two relate to whether or not the Biden administration considers the Confucius Institutes to be an extension of the communist Chinese government and to be purveyors of communist Chinese propaganda.
The Department has thus far failed to respond.
The Biden administration would be wise to answer both in the affirmative to clearly state to the country and the world where it stands regarding China’s propaganda machine.
Lastly, I want to highlight a very important issue that’s recently been brought to my attention.
Upon entering office, President Biden fired all U.S. Executive Directors at multilateral development banks who were currently serving out their terms. Some include the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
It’s been U.S. tradition to allow these non-partisan U.S. Executive Directors to serve in their positions until their term is up, regardless of whatever administration put them in those positions. 
This tradition ensures that the U.S. maintains a consistent, authoritative presence and engagement within these multilateral institutions.
In the last administration, the U.S. was tough on China through these development banks.
The Executive Directors that were in their respective positions made it a point to defend U.S. strategic interests by building coalitions aimed at eroding Chinese influence, which had been allowed to grow at an alarming extent.
Removing U.S. leaders from their positions prior to their terms expiring, and with no replacements even nominated, isn’t an example of the U.S. leading.
This is an example of the U.S. ceding its duties and responsibilities on the world stage.
In addition to my unanswered letters, the Biden administration should inform Congress as to why it removed all Executive Directors from their positions prior to their terms expiring.
China is aggressively growing its influence in multilateral organizations. Now isn’t the time to abandon the field. This is no time to be weak with China.
We must work tirelessly to protect our way of life and our national security from the ever-present threat from the communist Chinese government.

And we must build on the foundation that the Trump administration created to protect the American taxpayer from foreign theft, espionage and propaganda.