U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged the Obama Administration to step up its initiatives to ensure freedom of the Internet around the world.
“I applaud the continuing efforts of Secretary of State Clinton and everything the Department of State is doing to counter authoritarian governments and their designs to control access to the Internet,” Lugar said, remarking on her speech on Internet freedom today.
Lugar, however, expressed concern that the State Department has not been moving quickly enough to contract out the funding Congress appropriated for developing tools to counter Internet censorship. He called on the Secretary to transfer “no less than $8 million” in unspent funds to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and other international information services.
“Our international broadcast services are working everyday to counter Internet censorship,” Lugar explained, “and should be the primary drivers in U.S. Government efforts to develop and implement Internet censorship circumvention technology.”
Lugar’s committee staff report, issued today, “Another U.S. Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet,” details China’s initiatives to censor the Internet while expanding its influence in the world. View the full report (pdf).
“China is helping teach its language and culture here in the U.S. through its 71 Confucius Institutes located on American college campuses,” Lugar’s report says, “while allowing only five American Centers in China. Our diplomats need to do more to address this imbalance.”
China sends almost 130,000 students to the U.S. to study, while only one tenth that number of Americans studies in China. “While those Chinese students certainly learn more about America and the freedom and economic opportunity we provide,” Lugar said, “we need more American students studying overseas. America’s economic future depends on a greater understanding of the world.”
Lugar reported that Indiana ranks in the top ten states accepting international students. Of the more than 690,000 foreign students in the U.S., Indiana has 18,000. “These students generate approximately $500 million in tuition and living expenses in Indiana,” Lugar said.