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Florida Warns Schools Against Using China-Linked Tutoring Service

Florida is advising state school districts to stop using, a China-linked tutoring service.

One school has already ditched after the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) sent out a memo to state school districts on Tuesday, warning them against using the service due to national security concerns that it is owned by Hong Kong-based firm Primavera Capital. The DCNF previously reported that Primavera Capital’s CEO and founder, Fred Hu, has extensive ties to several Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence and operational units.

“Let me be clear, school districts, charter schools and state colleges should not contract with companies that have ties to foreign countries of concern and risk compromising student data,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. wrote in a memo on Tuesday, obtained by the DCNF. “Institutions must take the necessary steps to protect their students from nefarious foreign actors such as the [CCP].”

Hu has belonged to organizations previously identified by the U.S. government as being elements of the CCP’s “United Front” network. The United Front serves as a foreign influence and intelligence unit and works under the guidance of the CCP’s “United Front Work Department (UFWD),” which itself has been identified as part of Beijing’s intelligence network, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).

Additionally, Hu served as a delegate for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in the Hunan province as recently as 2022. CPPCC delegates “attend a high-profile annual meeting to receive direction from the CCP” and “serve as proxies for CCP interests by virtue of their participation in this forum, and they frequently act as interlocutors with foreign government officials, businesses and academic institutions,” according to the USCC.

Delegates are required to “facilitate implementation of state foreign policy, to “take advantage of the CPPCC as a united front organization,” to “keep state secrets,” and more broadly to “uphold the leadership” of the CCP, according to the CPPCC charter.

“We found that [Hu] listed as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and it says that he joined in 2008,” DCNF investigative reporter Philip Lenczycki, who conducted the investigation, told NTD’s China In Focus on March 15. “There are even photos of him in attendance at meetings wearing this distinctive red clip-on badge.”

Moreover, Hu is listed as the director of the Western Returned Scholars Association’s (WRSA) “Entrepreneur Alliance,” which the USCC has identified as being “subordinate to the United Front Work Department.” WRSA is tasked to “meet the requirements of the [CCP] leadership that it should ‘become a bridge between the Party and overseas students and scholars’” and “influence operations by disseminating propaganda,” according to the USCC.

Primavera denied Hu’s relationship with Beijing or the CCP in a previous statement to the DCNF.

Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and chair of the House Republican Conference Elise Stefanik introduced a bill last week that would ban the Pentagon from using, following the DCNF’s investigation.

“There are plenty of American companies that offer tutoring services and aren’t subject to the Chinese government,” Cotton said in a statement on March 21.

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