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Republican demands Biden answer for China-based firm's purchase of US education platform

EXCLUSIVE: A top Republican lawmaker is demanding to know why a Chinese private equity firm was allowed to purchase a U.S. educational website that is routinely used by American service members and students across the country. 

“I write to you today regarding reports that an entity based in the People’s Republic of China, Primavera Capital Group received approval to purchase a tutoring firm that contracts with the U.S. military and K-12 schools throughout the nation. Specifically, Tutor.com is an online educational website run by the Princeton Review which has contracts to provide free tutoring services to active duty and reserve service members, and civilian Defense Department personnel,” Main Street Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Olka., wrote in a letter to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday.

“This acquisition is deeply concerning as organizations based in China are routinely forced to share their data with the Chinese government, compromising any data users may believe to be private. Data that Tutor.com possesses would include information on users and tutors and could be exploited by the Chinese Communist Party.”

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Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., is raising concerns about a Chinese private equity firm buying the Princeton Review and Tutor.com (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

There have been heightened concerns in recent years about China’s quietly growing influence across U.S. academia and its influence on young Americans. 

In addition to buying Tutor.com, the Hong Kong-based equity firm got approval to acquire the site’s parent company, Princeton Review, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Before that, a system of language and cultural education centers known as Confucius Institutes were largely shut down after the State Department labeled them “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms” in 2020. 

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UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 26:  A plaque and a flag hang outside the China Institute, home of the Confucius Institute, at 125 E 65th Street in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 26, 2007. The Chinese government’s Office of the Chinese Language Council International, which has established 135 Confucius Institutes worldwide, is part of a broad campaign involving investment, aid and diplomacy as well as cultural outreach, all aimed at smoothing China’s path to great-power status.   (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But a June 2022 report by the National Association of Scholars indicated that these CCP-backed educational centers have been returning under different names, in some cases getting funding from the same exact entities which subsidized the Confucius Institutes.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s influence capabilities on young Americans has also prompted conversations in Washington over whether to limit TikTok, the popular social media platform that is owned by China-backed company Bytedance. 

In her letter to the Biden administration on Friday, Bice pointed out that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is tasked with reviewing foreign acquisitions and warning the president if one should pose a national security risk.

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Janet Yellen

UNITED STATES – MARCH 16: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the The Presidents Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, in Dirksen Building on Thursday, March 16, 2023.  (Tom Williams)

“With the knowledge that many service members and DoD personnel would have their personal data potentially compromised through this acquisition, I would like to ask why this purchase was permitted to go through?’ Bice questioned.

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The Republican lawmaker told Fox News Digital on Friday, “I am deeply concerned that the Biden Administration let Primavera Capitol Group, a Chinese private equity firm, buy a company that has personal data on the American military. The Chinese Communist Party’s potential weaponization of this data is a serious national security concern.”

“Under this President, the CCP has grown increasingly aggressive, even violating sovereign American airspace. It must stop, and the President must begin standing up to China,” Bice said.

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