HomeAttacks on U.S.DeSantis Kicking China, Cuba and Others Out of Florida Universities

DeSantis Kicking China, Cuba and Others Out of Florida Universities

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Governor DeSantis has embarked on a mission to fortify Florida’s educational institutions against undue influences from foreign governments deemed adversarial, particularly the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). His leadership reflects a commitment to ensuring that Florida’s universities remain beacons of free thought and innovation, untainted by external pressures that could compromise national security or the educational mission – and of course, preventing China from stealing valuable technology and research for its own use.

A critical step in Governor DeSantis’s approach was the decisive closure of the Florida International University’s (FIU) Marriott Tianjin China Program. This action was part of a broader initiative to scrutinize and regulate partnerships between Florida’s public universities and entities from countries with contentious relations with the United States, including China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Syria. The closure of the FIU program, which was a partnership with the Tianjin University of Commerce and significantly funded by the Chinese government, underscores his approach to maintaining the sovereignty and integrity of Florida’s academic institutions.

Governor DeSantis has been forthright in articulating the rationale behind these measures, emphasizing the importance of standing against what he identifies as the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat — the CCP. He stated, “Florida is taking action to stand against the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat — the Chinese Communist Party…and to stop CCP influence in our education system from grade school to grad school.” This bold declaration highlights a deep-seated commitment to preemptively addressing potential subterfuge within the educational system, ensuring that Florida’s students and faculty are protected from any form of ideological imposition or espionage.

In addition to the measures already discussed, Governor Ron DeSantis has implemented several other strategies to ensure the security and integrity of Florida’s educational system against foreign influence. These strategies include:

  • Putting a stop to the use of TikTok on devices and servers owned by educational institutions. This move aims to protect the digital landscape of Florida’s schools from potential cybersecurity threats and the spread of misinformation.
  • Establishing strict guidelines for state colleges and universities regarding financial interactions with foreign entities. Specifically, these institutions are now required to obtain approval from the Board of Governors or the State Board of Education before accepting any grants, entering into agreements, or forming partnerships with colleges or universities located in China or any other country identified as a concern.
  • Enforcing a rule that prevents state colleges and universities, along with their employees and representatives, from accepting any gifts in their official roles from any college, university, or principal from China or other designated countries of concern. This policy is designed to eliminate any potential for undue influence or conflict of interest within the state’s higher education system.
  • Eliminating “Confucius Institutes” from Florida’s educational institutions. These institutes have been criticized for acting as propaganda arms for the Chinese Communist Party, and their removal is part of a broader effort to ensure that academic environments remain free from foreign propaganda and influence.

Each of these actions taken by Governor DeSantis reflects a comprehensive approach to securing Florida’s educational institutions from external pressures and influences that could compromise the state’s commitment to providing a free and secure academic environment.

The enactment of the 2023 law, which governs interactions with so-called “countries of concern,” is among Governor DeSantis’s notable achievements in this domain. By setting clear guidelines and restrictions, this legislation has laid the groundwork for a more secure and transparent framework within which Florida’s universities can operate. It has necessitated a reevaluation of hiring practices and international collaborations, ensuring that any engagement with entities from the listed countries is carefully vetted and aligned with national interests.

Critics have voiced concerns about the potential implications of these policies on academic freedom and international collaboration. However, Governor DeSantis’s actions can be seen as preemptive measures to protect Florida’s educational ecosystem from undue external influence and espionage, rather than as constraints on academic liberty. By prioritizing the safety and integrity of the state’s institutions, these policies aim to preserve an environment where academic inquiry and innovation can flourish, free from the risks associated with geopolitical conflicts.

Governor DeSantis’s measures have sparked a broader conversation about the balance between national security and academic openness. But against the “academic openness” argument comes the key fact that money is a huge part of the equation. China’s programs are funded by China, and both the professors and the institutions benefit. DeSantis’ actions have stopped China’s corrupting and buying their way into these institutions.

This needs to happen more across America.

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