By Jack Davis
Published December 13, 2020 at 8:25am
Mike Pompeo calls for US colleges to limit number of Chinese students they accept over fears they are spies
Mr Pompeo says ‘left-leaning’ college campuses are targets for anti-American espionage actions
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on US colleges to shut down Chinese “Confucius Institutes” and limit the number of Chinese students admitted into US colleges, claiming the students were stealing research on behalf of the Chinese government.
Mr Pompeo made the comments on Wednesday morning during a speech at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Confucius Institutes are agreements between foreign and Chinese universities with the purpose of spreading Chinese culture, language and teaching around the world.
Mr Pompeo said US colleges were “hooked on Chinese communist party cash” and said they needed to work alongside the government to thwart Beijing’s attempts to spy on the US.
The Trump administration has alleged that US colleges are “massively” underreporting the amount of money they receive from China and other nations the US calls “adversaries”.
The US Department of Education released a report in October investigating whether or not schools were adhering to a 1986 law forcing them to disclose gifts and contracts of $250,000 or more from foreign sources.
Twelve schools were investigated in the report, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Georgetown universities.
According to the report, most of the schools had dealings with Huawei, a Chinese technology company that Mr Pompeo and other US intelligence officials claim is a security threat.
“Anyone using Huawei is handing their information over to the Chinese government,” Mr Pompeo said during the speech.
Since the schools were targeted by the federal government, they have disclosed an additional $6.5bn in foreign funding that was previously unreported.
Mr Pompeo warned that the US “can’t let the Chinese communist party infiltrate our research institutions”. When asked by a moderator how colleges can protect themselves from intellectual property theft while still making room for talented Chinese students to study in the US, Mr Pompeo said that the current “balance” was off and that new, rigorous standards would have to be adopted.
The October report was largely written off as partisan fear mongering by the Association of American Universities, which told the Associated Press that the report is “less a serious security assessment than it is a partisan and politically driven attack on America’s leading research universities”.
“While the Department of Education purports to be concerned about threats, it has consistently failed to respond to repeated requests for clarity, transparency, and guidelines,” the organisation said in a statement.
During his speech at Georgia Tech, Mr Pompeo claimed his statements were not partisan and were based on “datasets”.
China detaining Uighurs for ‘being young’, rights group saysChina detaining Uighurs for ‘being young’, rights group says
Biden considering former mayor Pete Buttigieg for China ambassadorBiden considering former mayor Pete Buttigieg for China ambassador
China orders removal of 105 apps, including TripAdvisorChina orders removal of 105 apps, including TripAdvisor
Despite that claim, Mr Pompeo also said that “left-leaning college campuses” were rife with students who were critical of the US, which made them the perfect “target audience for their anti-American messaging”.
Following his speech at Georgia Tech, the moderator asked Mr Pompeo about the disparity between the number of Chinese students attending US colleges and US students attending Chinese colleges. He noted that the US is the top destination for Chinese students, while China is not even in the top 10 for American students, and asked if the US should do more to encourage further academic exchange with China.
Mr Pompeo replied by saying that Chinese colleges did not want American students on their campuses because US students “walk and talk and do like we do”.