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The University of Rhode Island is closing its Confucius Institute, the local news broadcaster WPRI 12 reported. Rhode Island is at least the sixth U.S. university to announce plans to close its Confucius Institute in the last year as the Chinese government-funded centers for language and cultural education have come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers and intelligence officials. Other universities that have announced closures in the past year include North Carolina State University, Texas A&M University (which announced closures on two campuses), the Universities of North and West Florida, and the University of Michigan.
A spokeswoman for Rhode Island told WPRI 12 that the university was concerned that continuing to operate the Confucius Institute could jeopardize federal funding for URI’s Chinese Language Flagship program, which is funded by the Department of Defense. A defense spending law passed last year prohibits the use of appropriated funds for Chinese language instruction by a college or university that hosts a Confucius Institute, though it does allow the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness to waive the prohibition in certain instances.