During former President Donald Trump’s term, his administration made it a point to reduce Chinese influence in U.S. culture as much as possible because it is corrosive, anti-American, and predatory.
But Joe Biden’s administration appears to be neglecting its obligation to keep our country safe from Beijing’s infiltration, especially when it comes to American universities.
“Watchdog group Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Education demanding transparency in what the group alleges may be a Biden administration move to weaken rules surrounding foreign gifts and contracts to colleges,” Fox News reports.
“The group says it was moved to investigate after noticing a spike in reported foreign gifts to the University of Pennsylvania after the establishment of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in 2017. DFI claims that the university received $21 million in reported foreign gifts between February 2017 and September 2020,” the network continued.
The Dept. of Education, under Trump, began to crack down in 2019 and 2020 on universities’ acceptance of foreign gifts using Section 117 of the Higher Education Act so as to keep better track of how much foreign money from countries like Qatar and China were flowing into the American education system.
And now, DFI wants to know how seriously the Biden administration is following through with the Trump-era crackdowns.
“With China’s intensifying political, diplomatic, economic and military competition with the United States, any failure to police Section 117’s requirements poses national security concerns,” said DFI President Robert Eitel.
“The public has a right to know the identities of foreign governments and their proxies that make gifts or enter into contracts with American universities and to know the amounts of those gifts and contracts. It’s hard to understand why ED would relax enforcement of these transparency requirements,” Eitel noted further.
The Higher Education Act requires schools to disclose foreign gifts totaling $250,000 or more per year.
DFI noted in its FOIA request that following the official opening of the Biden Center in 2018, the next year “UPenn received an astonishing 389% higher reportable foreign contributions 2019 compared to 2018.”
Also, according to a separate investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer, UPenn received an eye-popping $258 million in foreign gifts since 2013, most of it coming from Chinese sources.
In another analysis, DFI wrote that between 2013 and 2019, “Penn was the third-highest university recipient of foreign funding from groups in the [People’s Republic of China (PRC)] and that approximately 40% of those gifts (approximately $27.1 million) came from anonymous PRC donors.”
It’s not as though U.S. officials are not aware of China’s outsized — and undue — influence.
In a Jan. 31 speech on influence threats emanating from Beijing, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the Chinese Communist Party was exerting influence on U.S. students as well as Chinese students studying in America from abroad.
“In a recent incident at one Midwestern university, for example, a Chinese-American student posted online praise for those students who were killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989,” Wray said. “And almost immediately, his parents called from China, saying that Chinese intelligence officers had shown up to threaten them because of his post.
“Much of the battleground we’re contesting lies outside the government’s control: companies whose technology we’re helping protect, universities whose students and research we’re helping protect, local governments we’re warning about foreign threats,” Wray continued.
Trump, meanwhile, has been warning for years about an ascendant China, noting in 2015 before he even captured the GOP presidential nomination that the U.S. should “be careful — they’ll bring us down.”
“We are so tied in with China and Asia that their markets are now taking the U.S. market down,” he said during a market ‘correction’ in August of that year.
He said that China has been “taking our jobs [and] they’re taking our money,” adding that “we have nobody that has a clue.”
Trump followed up his rhetoric on China with action, imposing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tariffs and bringing the Chinese to the trade negotiating table, all of which fell apart after the COVID-19 pandemic began.