Republicans seek information on Chinese ties to US universities

Republicans seek information on Chinese ties to US universities
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are seeking information from the Education Department on China's ties to leading U.S. universities, as tensions mount between the two countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republicans, led by House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Jim Jordan reveals he had COVID-19 this summer The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows MORE (Ohio), sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosMnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book Republicans look to education as winning issue after Virginia successes McAuliffe rolls out new ad hitting back at Youngkin on education MORE on Monday asking for details on what he characterized as the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) efforts to influence American colleges.

“We write to seek a better understanding of the Department’s efforts to address unreported foreign direct investment into the U.S. higher education system,” the House Republicans wrote. “This joint inquiry is in furtherance of Congressional Republican’s efforts to investigate the Chinese government’s propaganda and cover-up campaign surrounding this pandemic.”

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The House members asked DeVos to provide documentation on all U.S. universities under investigation for receiving foreign gifts since 2018, and any preliminary findings from those investigations.

The letter was signed by ranking members on other House committees, including Reps. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxGOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots GOP lawmaker fined ,000 for failing to complete House security screening Former GOP Rep. Mark Walker fielding calls about dropping NC Senate bid, running for House MORE (N.C.), Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world MORE (Texas), Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress Senior-level engagement with Russia is good — if it's realistic It's time to overhaul the antiquated and unbalanced military justice system MORE (Ala.), Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesProposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Devin Nunes's family ordered to reveal who is paying for defamation lawsuit Three key behind-the-scenes figures in Jan. 6 probe MORE (Calif.), and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulWTA suspends tournaments in China pending investigation into star Peng Shuai's allegations Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE (Texas).

The Department of Education has launched an investigation of its own into at least one major school system. The agency is looking into ties between the University of Texas and the Chinese lab being investigated by U.S. intelligence officials for potentially being linked to the COVID-19 outbreak. A university official told The Hill they would cooperate with the investigation.

Jordan tied the COVID-19 tensions between Washington and Beijing to his concerns over Chinese influence on U.S. universities and colleges.

“We cannot allow a dangerous communist regime to buy access to our institutions of higher education, plain and simple,” Jordan said in a statement. “The Chinese Communist Party’s coverup of the early outbreak of the coronavirus immeasurably worsened this disease’s impact on the United States and the world. We owe it to the American people to hold China accountable and to prevent them from doing further harm to our country.”

Concerns over Chinese ties to U.S. academic institutions also extend to intellectual property theft.

The Justice Department has taken multiple steps against leading professors at American institutions for their connections to China.

An associate professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville was arrested by federal authorities and charged with concealing his relationship with a Chinese university in February, while the chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department was arrested in January for lying about ties to China.