COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The University of Maryland has announced that federal legislation passed last year has caused the institution to end a Chinese government-approved program that, if continued, could have jeopardized the school’s access to important government funding.

The university will be terminating the Confucius Institute program at the end of the academic year, University President Wallace Loh wrote in a letter to the campus community last week.

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The program teaches Chinese language and culture through an agreement with the country’s government, and provides Chinese language teachers to K-12 schools in Maryland and Washington, D.C., local news outlets reported Wednesday.

In his letter, Loh cited “rising geopolitical, economic and cultural tensions” between the United States and China and explained that in 2018, Congress signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law for Fiscal Year 2019.

The law included language preventing organizations that host a Confucius Institute “from participating in certain federally funded programs,” Loh wrote. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, accused the programs of exposing universities to espionage, news outlets reported at the time.

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The university initially defended the program in the wake of the law, saying it maintained academic independence from China. But the letter stated that officials reevaluated their stance after assessing the effect the legislation would have on the university.

Officials said they’re working on ways to continue placing Chinese language teachers in area classrooms and providing classes to the general public.

San Francisco State University, the University of Oregon, Western Kentucky University, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota and The University of Rhode Island are among the institutions that have announced in the last year that they would also close their Confucius Institutes, news outlets have reported.

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