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 JordanHow conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up Democrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers MORE (Ohio), sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosHigher ed leaders warn House committee of financial strain Trump says White House will pressure governors to open schools DeVos demands 'fully operational' schools in the fall: 'Not a matter of if' 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 FoxxHouse fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO CEO Greenwood says US failed for years to heed warnings of coming pandemic; Trump: Fauci won't testify to 'a bunch of Trump haters' Hillicon Valley: Amazon VP resigns in protest | Republicans eye university ties to China | Support rises for vote by mail MORE (N.C.), Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide House panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year MORE (Texas), Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersThe Hill's Morning Report - Capitol Hill weighs action on racial justice as protests carry on Bottom line Officials warn Chinese hackers targeting groups developing coronavirus treatments MORE (Ala.), Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHow conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Lawmaker-linked businesses received PPP loans Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November MORE (Calif.), and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulTrump's WHO decision raises bipartisan concerns in House National security adviser says Trump was not briefed on bounty intelligence, condemns leaks Pentagon: 'No corroborating evidence' yet to validate troop bounty allegations 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.”

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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.