Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that think tanks need to disclose their foreign funding sources before engaging with his department.
Mr. Pompeo said his department is primarily concerned with attempts by China and Russia to exert control over lobbyists, experts and influencers at think tanks.
“The unique role of think tanks in the conduct of foreign affairs makes transparency regarding foreign funding more important than ever,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement. “To protect the integrity of civil society institutions, the Department requests henceforth that think tanks and other foreign policy organizations that wish to engage with the Department disclose prominently on their websites funding they receive from foreign governments, including state-owned or state-operated subsidiary entities.”
The State Department is not making disclosure of foreign funding a requirement for groups and think tanks looking to engage with American diplomats, but Mr. Pompeo said his department will factor such disclosures into deciding whether to interact with groups and think tanks.
Foreign funders have emerged as leading donors to prominent think tanks in recent years. More than $174 million of foreign funding went to 50 top U.S. think tanks, according to a Center for International Policy a study published earlier this year.
In recent months, U.S. federal government officials have also sounded the alarm that foreign adversaries have targeted American think tanks to monitor their work and interaction with the government.
The FBI previously told The Washington Times that it discovered adversaries from China, Iran and Russia looking to breach the digital networks and physical systems of think tanks, particularly those located near Washington, D.C.