Republican Lawmakers Unhappy with University Program Tied to Chinese Communist Party
The University of Montana (UMT) is in the middle of a big debate right now. Some lawmakers in Montana, who are Republicans, are worried about a program at the university. This program sends students to China for a study trip, but the problem is who’s paying for it and helping to organize it. The program is called the “CUSEF cultural exchange,” and it’s getting attention because the groups involved with it are connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Here’s the deal: the university is working with two groups for a summer trip to China. One of them is the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which some lawmakers think is used by the CCP to influence people in other countries. The other group is the Max S. Baucus Institute, named after a former Democrat senator and ambassador to China, Max Baucus. This institute gets a lot of money from a company called Wanxiang Group, and its co-founder was praised by the CCP.
Montana Republican leaders, like the Governor, Greg Gianforte, and Congressman Ryan Zinke, are really worried about this. They think the CCP is using programs like this to spy and influence American colleges, including UMT. They don’t trust the CCP and think it’s dangerous to let them be involved with American students.
Congressman Zinke and another Republican Congressman, Matt Rosendale, even wrote a letter to the president of UMT, Seth Bodnar. They said they were worried about how the Chinese group is involved with Montana students. They don’t want the university to keep this program, but the university is still planning to go on the summer trip to China.
The people who wrote the letter to the UMT president said the CUSEF group is a big part of the CCP’s plans to influence other countries. They’re worried because the person who started CUSEF, Tung Chee-hwa, has been a big supporter of the CCP.
There’s also a connection between Tung Chee-hwa and John Podesta, who works on clean energy for President Biden. They seem to be good friends.
Senator Steve Daines from Montana told the news that he thinks the situation is serious and should be looked into more. But not everyone is speaking up about it. For example, Democrat Senator Jon Tester from Montana didn’t say anything when asked.
UMT says the trips to China are legal and important for students to learn and help America compete globally. The university’s president, who used to be in the special forces, says he knows about threats from other countries, but he thinks this program is okay and follows the law.
The dates for the next trip to China haven’t been set yet, but the CUSEF group will pay for things like lodging, meals, and travel insurance for the students.