China influenced Utah legislation during long-running campaign: report

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

China influenced Utah legislation during long-running campaign: report

In recent years, Utah’s ties to China have come under scrutiny as citizens and lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on the state’s affairs. A new report sheds light on the extent to which China has been able to shape Utah’s legislation over the years, highlighting the challenges faced by lawmakers in maintaining a balance between economic interests and national security.

The report, published by the Utah think tank Sutherland Institute, details the various ways in which China has been able to influence Utah’s legislation, from large-scale investment projects to smaller, more subtle means of exerting pressure. One of the key issues that has emerged is Utah’s dependence on Chinese investments, which has made it difficult for lawmakers to take a tough stance on issues related to China’s human rights abuses or geopolitical ambitions.

According to the report, China’s influence was particularly strong during a long-running campaign to establish a Confucius Institute in Utah in the mid-2000s. Confucius Institutes are Chinese-funded cultural and language centers that have been criticized for spreading propaganda and limiting academic freedom. The report states that the campaign was heavily funded by Chinese interests and brought considerable pressure to bear on lawmakers.

Despite concerns raised by Utah faculty members and other critics, the Confucius Institute was eventually established at Utah Valley University in 2007. The report notes that the University of Utah also hosted a Confucius Institute until 2019, when it closed amid growing concerns about the influence of Chinese propaganda.

The report suggests that Utah’s lawmakers have been hesitant to take a tougher stance on China in part because of the state’s reliance on Chinese investment. China has invested heavily in Utah’s economy in recent years, particularly in the state’s real estate and technology sectors. In fact, as of 2021, Utah is home to more than 1,000 Chinese-affiliated companies, making it one of the most heavily Chinese-invested states in the US.

This economic relationship has created a complex web of interests for Utah’s lawmakers to navigate. They are keen to encourage investment and growth, but not at the cost of national security or human rights. The report notes that this balancing act has become increasingly difficult in recent years as China has become more assertive on the global stage and as public awareness of China’s human rights abuses has grown.

The report raises concerns about the potential for Chinese espionage in Utah, particularly in the state’s technology sector. It notes that several high-profile cases of Chinese espionage have been uncovered in recent years, including the case of scientist Jianjun Qiao, who was convicted in 2016 of stealing trade secrets from a Utah-based company.

The report also highlights the role of China’s “United Front” tactics, which seek to influence foreign governments and institutions through a combination of propaganda, lobbying, and other covert means. The report suggests that Chinese interests in Utah have made use of these tactics to sway public opinion and pressure lawmakers into taking a softer stance on China-related issues.

The report concludes by calling on Utah lawmakers to take a more proactive approach to countering China’s influence in the state. This could involve measures such as increasing transparency around Chinese investment in Utah, promoting alternative sources of investment, and reviewing the role of Confucius Institutes in the state’s universities.

Overall, the report paints a complex picture of Utah’s relationship with China, highlighting the challenges faced by lawmakers in navigating the state’s economic interests and national security concerns. It suggests that China’s influence has been significant in shaping Utah’s legislation, particularly during the campaign to establish a Confucius Institute in the mid-2000s. The report calls on lawmakers to take a more proactive stance on countering China’s influence and safeguarding the state’s national security interests.