Chinese military-linked entities, including those behind extensive cyber attacks and espionage, funneled at least $88 million into U.S. universities over the course of six years, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of federal records.
Some of America’s most prestigious universities have cashed lucrative checks from Chinese institutions that directly threatened national security. Duke University operates a joint-campus in China with Wuhan University, a public university that repeatedly carried out cyber attacks on behalf of the Chinese military. Northwestern University and the University of California Irvine have together received more than $4 million in research funding from an entity controlled by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a Chinese defense contractor that used stolen designs of American F-35 fighters to build planes for the Chinese military.
Institutions controlled by the Chinese government—state-owned enterprises, state-controlled public universities, government-controlled nonprofits, and other sources—collectively donated at least $315 million to American colleges between 2014 and 2019. More than a quarter of the contributions—27 percent—came from either state-owned defense contractors or public universities that closely partner with the Chinese military to conduct defense research.
The expenditures indicate that the Chinese government is a much bigger player in U.S. academia than previously thought. State-backed entities often avoid scrutiny as their government ties are not immediately obvious. The $315 million sum, based on federal disclosures, is likely a conservative estimate of Chinese influence peddling on campus. A Department of Education audit found that U.S. universities failed to disclose more than $6.5 billion in foreign funding from China and other countries in recent years.
Ian Easton, the senior director for the Project 2049 Institute think tank, said that the Chinese donations to American universities could pose a grave threat to national security.
“It is imperative that the U.S. government dams up the torrent of CCP-linked money currently flowing into our education system. For U.S. national security, the implications of a continuation of the current arrangement are grave,” Easton told the Free Beacon.