After Nancy Pelosi’s insensitive and provocative visit to Taiwan despite warnings from Beijing that the move would unnecessarily stoke military tension, more evidence is emerging that US institutions including Harvard are being quietly infiltrated by China.
According to Bloomberg, 115 American universities and colleges including Harvard and Stanford have received a joint total of $1 billion in donations from sources linked to China, and as we all know, with money comes significant influence.
As tension between the US and China continues to boil over, combined with Beijing’s habit of adopting extreme, communist ideology, China’s potential influence over American intuitions, particularly ones which help to shape the minds of our young people, is particularly worrying.
Numerous incidents have occurred in universities which provide a worrying insight into the quiet undertone of Chinese influence within them.
In March, during a question and answers session between students and guest speaker, Michigan Dem. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a crowd of Chinese students at Cornell University left the room in protest after one student asked why the West was more concerned about Russia’s invasion than China’s treatment of the Uyghur people.
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Slotkin later said that the female student who had asked the question had since experienced “bullying and intimidation by some fellow students”. Meanwhile, Cornell called the walkout a “legitimate form of protest and an appropriate expression of disapproval”.
A comprehensive report by the US Department of Education in 2020 suggested that organizations which gave considerable donations to universities were able to buy substantial influence over the slant of the ideology pressed in American classrooms or lecture halls.
The extent of the problem is hard to decipher because, since Biden’s presidency, the disclosure of the number of foreign donations taken by universities has suddenly and disproportionately fallen.
The Trump administration’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos pushed for more transparency from institutions about donations. As a result, universities and colleges reported a combined $1.6bn in foreign donations in the last six months of Trump’s time in the White House.
This figure was disproportionately slashed to just $4.3 million in the first year of Biden’s presidency.
In 2017, a University of Washington undergraduate was detained and put under house arrest in China for allegedly using what Beijing deemed as illegal software to access her homework.
According to the student, the university provided no support throughout the two years of house arrest and “re-education” she endured.
Trump-era Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said that the university was probably worried about losing its multi-million dollar donations from the Chinese.
There are currently no laws to regulate or restrict “soft power” being obtained through donations by Chinese companies or businesses, although since 1965 it has been the law that institutions must declare the donations.
Tighter restrictions around foreign donations are vital in our safeguarding educational institutions, and Biden needs to urgently crack down on universities ensuring they accurately and truthfully report where their money is coming from.
Author and Will Silkman Fellow in Education at the Center for Education Policy said:
“China is clearly interested in taking advantage of the abundant resources and materials at colleges and universities in the US. The least the Biden administration could do is offer sunlight on just how “interested” the CCP is”.