A Chinese company quietly bought two of the largest test-prep companies used in America to study for the SAT and ACT tests. One of the companies also has a years-long contract with the U.S. military.
The Primavera Capital Group, based in Hong Kong, bought Princeton Review and Tutor.com, which were previously owned by ST Unitas, a Korean education company.
“There’s reason for that hype,” Elly Rostoum, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s reason for the U.S. to be worried about those transactions.”
The Princeton Review describes itself as “one of the oldest and strongest brands in higher education with deep trust and relationships with prospective students and families.” It states that it serves over 1.5 million test preparation students each year. The company also says it publishes content related to program rankings in national publications.
Tutor.com includes a vast tutoring network for a variety of subjects, including college test preparation. The educational platform says it works “with thousands of educational institutions and education-forward organizations, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, to deliver nearly two million tutoring, homework help, and test preparation sessions per year.”
The purchases have largely occurred without public notice, but some are concerned about the influence of the Chinese company on American higher education. In addition, a large amount of personal information is made available to the Princeton Review, offering a potential security concern if it was accessed by the Chinese Communist Party government.
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The Primavera Capital Group is not the only concern related to Chinese influence in the United States. Thomas Jefferson High School, an elite college-prep school in Virginia, received over $1 million in donations from Chinese interests, according to the parental rights group Parents Defending Education.
Chinese security concerns also extend far beyond education. TikTok, owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, has been the source of much discussion over security concerns by state and federal governments.
Several states have already banned the use of TikTok on government devices, with states such as Texas and Tennessee banning TikTok from state university web servers.
At the federal level, TikTok has been banned from government-owned devices, with some calling for a full nationwide ban on the app. In January, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) introduced legislation in the Senate and House for a full ban of TikTok.
“TikTok poses a threat to all Americans who have the app on their devices. It opens the door for the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ personal information, keystrokes, and location through aggressive data harvesting. Banning it on government devices was a step in the right direction, but now is the time to ban it nationwide to protect the American people,” said Hawley in a press release.