In a move following the lead of former President Donald Trump, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a bill his state is taking aim at countries, specifically China, who violate intellectual property theft, traffic trade secrets, and making it illegal for schools and companies to accept large donations from a list of seven foreign countries.
"We need to take action, stand firm against the Chinese Communist Party and foreign influence and interference in American research, education, and public affairs," DeSantis said in a Monday news conference.
The legislation will close loopholes and strengthen institution vetting and apply common-sense protections, starting with the Florida education system, which is a primary target of influence by the CCP, DeSantis said.
"The Chinese Communist Party's mass infiltration and theft of American research is well documented, resulting in numerous arrests at college campuses across the country just within the last couple of years," he continued. "It's high time we tackle these issues and eliminate any tolerance of clandestine foreign influence in our schools."
DeSantis specifically mentioned the Trump administration's efforts to strike back at the Confucius Institute efforts to indoctrinate in Florida's education system. Florida's bill will stop taxpayer dollars being used to fund those efforts.
The bill also requires any school, company, or government entity to report any gift greater than $50,000 either directly or indirectly from any foreign government or person, and it requires stronger review and vetting of travel and research tied to foreign entities.
"We must ensure that our research, innovation, and talent benefit Florida and benefit our country, not foreign interests like the Chinese Communist Party," DeSantis said. "That's why Florida will be a leader in bringing these issues into the sunshine with these new transparency measures."
Violations will require institutions to pay 105% of the amount of the undisclosed gift back to the state of Florida, DeSantis said.
The seven foreign countries of concern in the bill are:
- North Korea
"Not only is this an issue of establishing barriers to foreign influence, but also a measure of sound fiscal stewardship to ensure tax dollars don't [end] up in the hands of the likes of [Nicolás] Maduro, Kim Jong Un, or the Chinese Communist Party."
In another effort last month, DeSantis moved to limit censorship, free speech violations, and political manipulation in big tech, including social media companies Facebook and Twitter.
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