Report: U.S. Universities Cooperating With Institutions Tied To China’s Military, Nuclear Weapons Program
Beijing “exploited the expertise of Chinese students … conducting research in the United States to accelerate China’s economic and military modernization.”
Many U.S. universities are cooperating with academic institutions embedded within Communist China’s military and nuclear weapons program, a report published this week warns.
“Dozens of U.S. universities maintain ties to Chinese universities that conduct defense research in support of Beijing’s military buildup, including work related to the country’s nuclear weapons program,” the NBC News reported, citing the study titled “The Middle Kingdom Meets Higher Education” published by the the DC-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Confucius Institute: Beijing’s Trojan Horse
The primary tool of China’s infiltration on U.S. college campuses are the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes, the 68-page report authored by FDD’s Adjunct Fellow Craig Singleton found.
The report vindicates the position taken by former President Donald Trump’s administration, which took measures to weed out these Beijing-controlled institutes from U.S. universities.
In August 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the Confucius Institutes operating at U.S. campuses as “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence.” These institutes were working to recruit “spies and collaborators” at American campuses, Pompeo warned.
Following the tough stance taken by the Trump State Department, the number of Confucius Institutes have dropped from 113 in 2018 to 28 in 2021. The FDD report concludes that the “CI closures have significantly eroded malign Chinese influence on college campuses.”
Even after their closure, the nefarious influence of CIs could be a lasting one, the report revealed:
Worryingly, a CI closure often does not result in the severance of ties between the U.S. university that hosted the CI and the Chinese sister university that supported its programming. Following at least 28 of the 79 documented CI closures between 2018 and 2021, the relevant U.S. university continued or expanded its relationship with its Chinese sister university. With a few exceptions, these Chinese universities provide direct, documented support to China’s military-industrial complex. (Page 20)
The CIs are not the only mechanism used by China to scout for military-relevant technologies on U.S. campuses. According the report, “U.S. universities often have separate, mandatory contractual agreements with their CCP-selected Chinese sister universities. Over time, U.S. universities frequently establish separate collaborative agreements with additional Chinese universities, including ones supporting China’s defense establishment.”
The CCP’s Spying on U.S. Research
China is weaponizing academic enrollment by dispatching Chinese students to acquire cutting-edge civil and defense technologies, the report disclosed:
Beijing has openly exploited the expertise of Chinese students and scholars studying or conducting research in the United States to accelerate China’s economic and military modernization. Beijing’s efforts include sponsoring promising Chinese students and scholars in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields at U.S. and foreign universities, with the understanding that these individuals will return home to provide the technology and talent Beijing needs to compete with the United States. (Page 14-15)
Xi Jinping’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy
The report also highlighted the threat posed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) strategy, which gives the country’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sweeping powers to use Chinese investments, companies, and academic institutions to get its hands on cutting-edge innovations taking place in the United States.
The Military-Civil Fusion aims to make the “People’s Liberation Army into a ‘world-class military’ and leading the world in emerging and disruptive technologies by 2049 as core national goals for China,” The CD-based National Bureau of Asian Research says.
The strategy has enabled the PLA to penetrate deep inside the U.S. academic landscape. The FDD report found that “[o]f the 28 universities currently hosting a CI, 10 maintain sister-university relationships with Chinese universities directly supporting China’s [Military-Civil Fusion] program and/or China’s broader defense establishment.”
The document warned that “many of these Chinese universities contribute to China’s [Military-Civil Fusion] program, while three support Beijing’s nuclear program and two support Chinese cyber-espionage.”
By keeping future warfare in mind, the Chinese military is not only looking for ways to upgrade its conventional weaponry. The PLA is spying on U.S. research in the fields of artificial intelligence, mobile communication, and electronics.
“Key technologies being targeted under MCF include quantum computing, big data, semiconductors, 5G, advanced nuclear technology, aerospace technology, and AI,” the U.S. State Department report published in 2020 cautioned. China “specifically seeks to exploit the inherent ‘dual-use’ nature of many of these technologies, which have both military and civilian applications,” the report added.
“American Universities At Risk From Chinese Spies, Intelligence Officials Say” (February 2020)DONATE
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