Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Confucius Institute at MTSU again receiving critical attention

Sen. Marsha Blackburn

MURFREESBORO, Tenn, (Mike Osborne) -- Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn has put two of the state’s leading universities in the spotlight as she continues a media campaign against the Chinese government.


Blackburn's media barrage targeting communist China has grown rapidly more fierce in recent weeks. Her complaints have ranged from blaming China for failing to provide the world with an earlier warning about the coronavirus, to an insistence that the U.S. not be dependent on Chinese manufacturers for critical medications.


The Senator this past weekend revisited a subject she has addressed in the past. In a social media blast, Blackburn targeted Chinese government sponsored institutes located on university campuses nationwide, including here in Tennessee.


Confucius Institutes can be found at some 100 colleges in the U.S. Among them, the campuses of Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis. A similar institute at Tennessee State in Knoxville was closed last year.


The stated aim of the Institutes is to promote Chinese language and culture. But in a Twitter post Sunday, Blackburn wrote the institutes must not be allowed to "indoctrinate unsuspecting students.”


Findings last year by the U.S. House of Representatives and the FBI also suggested the institutes are propoganda tools of the Chinese government.


Blackburn in March filed what she's calling the "Transparency for Confucius Institutes Act." The Act would place new restrictions on existing institutes and subject them to oversight by the U.S. Department of Education.


When a similar controversy erupted last year, WMOT asked MTSU President Sidney McPhee for a response. He provided a statement saying in part that MTSU “has narrowly defined its relationship with the institute and established protocols that strictly maintain the university’s academic freedom.”

McPhee went on to defend MTSU’s involvement with the institute, saying it helps “increase enrollment and academic opportunities.” He also calls the institute a resource for Tennessee farmers and industry.

Full Disclosure: WMOT is owned and operated by Middle Tennessee State University.


Related Content