Contracts Between US Universities, China Total More Than $2 Billion: Investigation

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Apr 21, 2024 - 12:45 AM

By Micaiah Bilger of The College Fix

Report comes amid concerns about CCP’s influence, human rights violations...

American universities have entered more than $2.3 billion in contracts with China in the past decade amid on-going concerns about the influence of its communist government on U.S. higher education, a new investigation found.

These contracts included agricultural research regarding orange crops, trainings for airline pilots, and medical trials for a tumor treatment drug developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical company, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The investigation uncovered approximately 2,900 contracts from 2012 and 2024 between Chinese businesses and about 200 U.S. public colleges and universities in all 50 states.

Some involved specialized training, such as $37 million in contracts between Chinese airlines and the University of North Dakota to train and license pilots.

Another $1.8 million in contracts with China’s Institute of Navel Orange at Gannan Normal University and the University of Florida involved researching tree genetics and diseases affecting citrus fruit, according to the investigation.

But others were less specific.

For example, “all three of China’s major government-owned oil companies have funded contracts for $100,000 or more at the University of Texas at Austin, which the school describes only as ‘research activity,’” the investigation found.

The report continued:

Some of the biggest-value China contracts feature franchise-type arrangements for overseas satellite campuses. New York University, which the Education Department database shows has been the largest single recipient of Chinese funding, reported two contracts totaling over $46.5 million for 2021 alone for its Shanghai branch.

The Juilliard School has disclosed over $133 million in such funding over more than a decade for its Tianjin Juilliard School near Beijing, appointed with some 120 Steinway pianos.

These partnerships have U.S. politicians, academics, and students concerned. The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, from free speech censorship to forced labor and torture to genocide of the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority population.

According to the report:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies warn that China’s state has encouraged theft of technological secrets at universities, spread pro-Beijing propaganda, stifled campus debate and harassed students.

Beijing dismisses such characterizations. Its officials say ethnic Chinese students and professors have been unfairly targeted in the U.S., including on American campuses, and urged the U.S. to be mindful of its reputation for academic freedom. The Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to detailed questions about the university contracts.

American defense officials raised similar concerns about China and artificial intelligence technology in a 2021 report by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

“China’s domestic use of AI is a chilling precedent for anyone around the world who cherishes individual liberty,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the Athenai Institute, a bipartisan student-led organization, is urging U.S. universities to divest from Chinese government-controlled entities, The College Fix reported this month.

Lawmakers also have been taking action. In 2023, for example, Florida enacted a law restricting public universities and colleges “from accepting grants from or participating in partnerships or agreements” with China and other foreign countries “of concern.”