Nikki Haley targets Confucius Institutes, but at least 2 operated in South Carolina when she was governor

During Haley's tenure as SC governor, Confucius Institutes operated at the University of South Carolina and the Presbyterian College

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has repeatedly warned against China's investments in the United States and American universities, despite at least two higher education institutions in South Carolina hosting language and culture programs operated by the Chinese Communist Party during her tenure as governor of the Palmetto State.

Last month – during her remarks on foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute – Haley took aim at China for "giving hundreds of millions of dollars" to American universities and warned of the dangers of Confucius Institutes, saying they are designed to "spread communist propaganda on college campuses."

"The line between Chinese investors and the Chinese Communist Party is exceptionally thin. The national security risk is too great. We must prevent China from buying more land, and force it to sell what it already owns," said Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "We need similar resolve in our higher education system. China has set up so-called Confucius Institutes that spread communist propaganda on college campuses. When they get shut down, they quickly re-open under different names."

"China is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to our universities. This funding gives Beijing a foothold in the best research institutions in the world," she added. "It wants our research for its military. We should end this practice. We should ban all propaganda centers and eliminate federal funding for universities that take Chinese money. Universities must choose – China or America. It shouldn’t be a hard decision. … The challenge today is that national security is affected by almost every part of our relationship with China. No one understands that better than the Chinese. They have desperately pursued American investment and innovation precisely to strengthen their military."


nikki haley targets confucius institutes but at least 2 operated in south carolina when she was governor

Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley holds a town hall meeting on March 9, 2023, in Nevada, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

However, despite Haley's warnings of Chinese investments in American universities, at least two Confucius Institutes operated on college campuses in South Carolina during her time as governor.

The University of South Carolina (USC) hosted a Confucius Institute program for at least 13 years, despite some warnings from lawmakers and education advocates at the time that the program functioned as a propaganda arm of the Chinese government.

The program, which began operating at USC in 2008, according to The State, was done away with in 2021 following a vote from the board of trustees. In 2018, less than 100 students were "enrolled in classes taught by a Confucius Institute professor," the outlet noted.

Discussing the program offered at USC in 2019, the outlet wrote, "USC and the Beijing Language and Culture University established the Confucius Institute in 2008. The agreement establishing the institute places an official at the state-run Beijing school in charge of creating the curriculum and allows an arm of the Chinese government to provide course materials. The program’s budget must be approved by an arm of the Chinese government, according to the agreement."

According to USC's 2017 demographic report, China sent 596 international students to the school in 2017 – more than any other country.

Defending the program at the time, USC spokesman Jeff Stensland insisted that the college had control over the content in the classroom and that the only courses taught by Confucius Institute staff were language courses.

"At USC, our faculty develops the syllabi, selects textbooks and has oversight over all curriculum," said Stensland, according to The State. "The only courses at USC taught by Confucius Institute staff are language courses. They do not teach culture, literature or film courses and are under the direct supervision of USC faculty."

nikki haley targets confucius institutes but at least 2 operated in south carolina when she was governor

According to the University of South Carolina's 2017 demographic report, China sent 596 international students to the school in 2017 – more than any other country. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

The outlet also reported that USC – a public university located in Spartanburg – contributed $100,000 to start the Confucius Institute program on its campus and helped provide at least 2,000 square feet of office space, one full-time professor, a secretary and two part-time post graduate students to assist with the program's efforts.

As governor, Haley replaced USC mega donor Darla Moore on the board of trustees with Tommy Cofield, who made donations to her gubernatorial campaigns, according to The State. Cofield, according to South Carolina ethics filings, donated $4,500 to her 2010 campaign and $3,020 to her 2014 campaign. Defending the move at the time, Haley insisted that Cofield – who reportedly does not serve on the board anymore – better suited her vision for the school.

Other various USC board members at the time also donated to Haley's gubernatorial campaign(s), including former USC Board of Trustees chairman Eugene Barr, Mark W. Buyck Jr., C. Edward Floyd, William W. Jones Jr., John C. Von Lehe Jr., and Thad H. Westbrook.


The Presbyterian College, a private liberal arts school located in Clinton, South Carolina, also formerly operated a Confucius Institute, which was launched in 2009 and recently shut down.

"In a partnership with Converse and Wofford colleges and Clemson and Furman universities, Presbyterian College was officially awarded a Confucius Institute by the Chinese government in a dedication ceremony Friday at the Clinton school," the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported in November 2009. "Local and state as well as Chinese officials were on hand to help formally launch the prestigious program, which is intended to bridge the cultural and language gap between China and the Upstate business and educational communities."

The outlet also noted at the time, based on comments from Jeff Barker, then-vice-president for academic affairs at Converse University, that two "major goals of the institute are the implementation of Chinese language instruction in private and public K-12 schools throughout Spartanburg, Greenville and Laurens counties, and fostering commercial links between China and the Upstate."

While it is unclear when exactly the Presbyterian College closed its Confucius Institute, a notice regarding the closure was shared to Presbyterian’s international programs website sometime between August 2022 and November 2022.

"Presbyterian College has closed the Confucius Institute and is transitioning into a forthcoming initiative with a focus specifically on South Korea and the broader region of East Asia," the notice stated.

nikki haley targets confucius institutes but at least 2 operated in south carolina when she was governor

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently lashed out at U.S. universities for taking money from China, and she suggested that she would push American businesses to leave China if she is elected president. (Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

The successor institute on "South Korean and East Asian Studies" held a delegation visit to South Korea in January 2023 and officially launched in May 2023.

In a statement to Fox News Digital about the matter, Ken Farnaso, a spokesman for Nikki Haley, said, "When Nikki was governor, from 2011-16, the dangers of the Confucius Institutes were just beginning to come to light. Much more was exposed after she left office, and ever since she has long been a strong advocate for cracking down on them and other Chinese infiltrations in our universities and our economy."

"When it comes to our universities, we’re going to say you either take Chinese money or American money, but the days of taking both are over," Haley said during the Moms for Liberty summit last month. "We’ll get that Chinese infiltration out of our universities."

In March 2021, the Senate passed a bill titled the Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States (CONFUCIUS) Act to clamp down on China’s reach into U.S. universities by tightening restrictions on Confucius Institutes. The measure, which was also introduced in the House but never received a vote, would have cut federal funding from universities that host Confucius Institutes unless they regulate all teaching staff hired for the cultural centers and oversee the curriculum.

In addition, the bill called for the banning of any "foreign law on any campus" and the protection of "academic freedom" at U.S. universities.

Haley will be visiting New Hampshire next week and is scheduled to discuss "China’s role in the growing fentanyl crisis in America and her plan to crack down on Communist China," according to a campaign email sent out Thursday.

"Over the past few weeks, Americans watched Joe Biden send not one, not two, but three members of his administration to China to make nice with the Chinese Communist Party," the email said. "Did any of these taxpayer-funded trips result in China agreeing to stop the flow of fentanyl precursors to America? No. The officials cowered and bowed, and China told them to take a hike."

Fox News' Caitlin McFall and Houston Keene contributed to this article.

Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on Twitter: @RealKyleMorris.

Authored by Kyle Morris via FoxNews July 7th 2023