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U.S. lawmakers want China's Confucius Institutes to register as foreign agents

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WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - Three U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday they want China's Confucius Institute cultural centers in the United States to register as foreign agents, and to require all U.S. universities to disclose major gifts from foreign sources.

Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton, and Representative Joe Wilson introduced the "Foreign Influence Transparency Act," which would require the institutes to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

The measure, which comes amid increasing concern from some U.S. officials about Chinese influence in U.S. education, also would require universities to disclose donations, contracts or in-kind gifts valued at $50,000 or more from any foreign source.

Run by the Chinese government, the Confucius Institutes offer language and cultural programs at more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities. They have been criticized as an attempt by Beijing to influence U.S. higher education.

Many U.S. politicians have been pushing for the United States to take a harder line in its dealings with China, particularly President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans but also many Democrats.

Officials at the Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio)