Congress, Biden must crack down on universities’ Chinese gravy-train

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) has released its 2023 report. report The report included 30 recommendations of “particular importance”. Its third recommendation identified proposals to “address Chinese state-directed influence and interference” currently affecting American universities.

The report, released the day before President Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in San Francisco, notes China’s broader challenges to the United States and the importance of protecting U.S. interests. provides relevant legislative recommendations.

This report is particularly noteworthy in that its recommendations received unanimous support from all USCC commissioners. For reference, the chairman served as chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the vice chairman worked on foreign policy for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) before becoming deputy assistant secretary of state. He served as an advisor. In the Trump administration.

Six of the commissioners were appointed by Democratic Congressional leaders and six by Republican Congressional leaders. In short, this is a truly bipartisan commission.

The USCC is seeking legal changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 that would require universities to better disclose foreign gifts and contracts dating back at least a decade. These records would be required to be shared with the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and interagency reviews would be required to regularly identify security risks posed by universities’ economic ties to China.

As a sign of the seriousness of the threat, the committee is calling for a complete suspension of federal financial aid for universities that fail to comply with these disclosure requirements for three consecutive or nonconsecutive years. Finally, the report recommends that the U.S. Department of Education evaluate the “adequacy” of the current $250,000 threshold for foreign gifts and contracts for universities to report, and whether a lower reporting threshold is appropriate. It shows that there is a possibility.

The USCC’s proposed reforms would significantly strengthen foreign financial disclosure requirements and penalties for university compliance violations. Such reforms are unlikely to be welcomed by universities, which have long relied on significant foreign funding from allies and foes.

Many of the most prestigious universities fail to disclose large donations from China, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, as the Department of Education revealed in an October 2020 compliance filing. This often happens. report. Other significant foreign financial ties are hidden by the university.

Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Justice announced settlement agreement Although Stanford University had successfully applied for significant federal research grants, including grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, The university is in a dispute with Stanford University over its failure to disclose the information. .

Other reports reveal that UCLA likely received at least $30 million in federal research grants, even as UCLA’s former director secretly established a similar AI center in China It has become. The FBI, NSF, and other agencies are almost certainly continuing to investigate similar disclosure failures by universities receiving large federal research grants.

Yale University had so little regard for statutory disclosure requirements that it disclosed all information from 2014 to 2017, even though it received approximately $375 million in reportable foreign funds from 2014 to 2017. did not report foreign gifts and contracts.

The Justice Department also found inadequate institutional controls over undisclosed foreign involvement by prominent Harvard faculty. Fee To Charles Lieber, Chair of the Department of Chemistry. Lieber received a monthly stipend of $50,000 from China’s Wuhan University of Technology and a $1.5 million award to set up a research lab at Wuhan University.

The failures of Stanford, Harvard, and Yale are shocking but not unique.

China has identified our universities as “soft targets” in its ongoing efforts to acquire Japan’s latest research results and intellectual property. FBI Director Christopher Wray explained The threat of Chinese counterintelligence and economic espionage is “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information, intellectual property, and economic vitality.”

This is no time for President Biden or Congress to pretend that the Chinese threat has diminished.

At the summit held in San Francisco last week, leaders from several major U.S. companies paid top dollar to dine with President Xi at a “welcome dinner” hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. paid. Access to the Chinese market is, of course, a goal of US industry. Xi presses fellow business leaders to urge Congress and other US policymakers to de-emphasize America’s current growing concerns about China’s continued belligerence against the US and its Indo-Pacific allies It is expected that.

Churchill was right when he said, “Better Joe Joe than war.” But until President Xi Jinping orders an end to China’s hostile actions against the United States, including targeting critical research and talent developed at our nation’s universities, Biden and Congress will protect our national security interests. Therefore, we should move quickly to implement the bipartisan USCC’s significant external financial disclosure reforms for universities. American people.

Paul R. Moore, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief investigative advisor for the U.S. Department of Education, is a senior fellow at the Prague Institute for Security Studies.

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