by WorldTribune Staff, December 13, 2020
Following are excerpts from a Dec. 9 speech at Georgia Tech in Atlanta in which U.S. Secretary of State described how communist China is “poisoning the well” on American college campuses.
It’s important that I come here to talk about the topic that I have in front of us today because this is the place where American national security intersects deeply with the things that happen at important research institutions like this one.
I thought I’d start with a quick story, by way of explanation. Professor Fei-Ling Wang is with us here today. Professor, where – I didn’t see you sitting? Welcome. Nice to see you.
Several years ago, Professor Wang took a trip to China where he was scooped up by security agents inside of China. He was held in a secret location for two weeks. Professor Wang was interrogated and threatened. They wanted information about his research about China and his time teaching at my alma mater, West Point. He could tell you the stories better than I could. But they thought they could intimidate him or perhaps recruit him because he’s ethnically Chinese.
It’s a blessing he’s here with us today. And thankfully, he was released after pressure from the leadership of lots of places, including this very university and the Carter Center.
The lesson I think that we can take away from this is clear. It’s that the Chinese Communist Party wants what we have, and they will do whatever they must do to take it and get it. They will steal our stuff. They will pressure critics of the Chinese Communist Party to keep quiet. They will do whatever it takes.
And it’s important to come and talk with the American people about this because Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends, and how those actions degrade our freedoms and American national security. If we don’t educate ourselves, if we’re not honest about what’s taking place, we’ll get schooled by Beijing.
Now, it’s taken this country and indeed, the entire free world, a long time to understand the trajectory that China is on today. In fact, we’re not quite there yet everywhere in the world.
There’s no one to hold accountable for this. That’s not the important part. Because for a long time, Republicans, Democrats, leaders all across academia, institutions, commercial space thought that by trading and engaging with China that the Chinese Communist Party would reform itself, it would loosen up, it would embrace economic and political freedom, and it would present less risk to freedom around the world.
But instead, that’s not what we got. Instead, the Chinese communists used the wealth that was created by this to tighten their grip on power, their grip on power over the Chinese people, and to build a high-tech repressive state like the world has never seen.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has made clear his intentions. You only have to listen to what he says. He says he wants total control at home, and to make China the number-one power abroad. And he’s well on his way to working on that project.
He’s building up the People’s Liberation Army. He’s manipulating international organizations for Beijing’s benefit. And he’s engaging – as we have seen in TV only just these last two days, he’s engaging in a vast influence campaign all across the world.
And that may for some of you sitting at home today seem like a long ways away and very ambitious touch for Xi Jinping to make, but I must say he has his eye on each and every one of us.
Over the past year I’ve talked to America’s governors in Washington about this, state legislators in Wisconsin, tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and many other groups. I’ve gone out to talk to them about this challenge. And today, I want to talk about what’s happening in schools across America, especially research institutions and places like where I’m standing today.
Just think about it. Chinese Communist Party scientists aren’t pioneering cancer cures. We are. And it’s not North Korean biochemists that are producing safe COVID vaccines. We are. And Iranians aren’t ahead in supercomputing. No. In fact, we are. It is the free world and free peoples that produce these superior results. And we should be very proud of that fact.
But we have an obligation to protect it, to preserve it, to make sure that that’s the case 10 and 50 and 100 years from now.
Because on places like this campus, scientists have pioneered quantum computing, artificial intelligence, pediatric technology, even autonomous robots that can function without human control – and I must say that frightens me just a bit.
Look, the Chinese Communist Party knows it can never match our innovation. It has state-owned enterprises; it’s an authoritarian regime; it is a government-centric focus. That’s why it sends 400,000 students a year to the United States of America to study – 400,000 students a year studying in our universities come from one country. It is no accident.
Much of the high-end industrial base inside of China is based on stolen technology, or technology purchased from other nations. It’s not home-grown.
Beijing doesn’t want Chinese researchers to stay here in the United States. Indeed, after they’re trained, they want them to come back. They want to induce their return for the singular purpose of serving the Socialist Motherland.
Look, the Party’s propaganda apparatus cannot tolerate pesky Americans or Chinese nationals exposing its bankrupt system, or the fact that the Chinese people can actually flourish when they are in free societies.
It doesn’t want you to know what I’m about to tell you.
Now, let’s be clear. I want to be sure that my language is precise today. When I say “China,” I’m talking about the Chinese Communist Party. I love and value, as we all do, our Chinese American community, and the Chinese people that live here in the United States and those that live in China as well. We want good things for them.
And I say “genuinely” because of cases like Xin Wang, a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, who allegedly lied about being a People’s Liberation Army officer, all the while collecting information on UC-SF labs. The good news is the FBI nabbed him.
And Ji Chaoqun studied electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He tried to enlist in the United States Army. He allegedly omitted his ties to Chinese intelligence, which tasked him with recruiting engineers and scientists where he was working.
These are just two examples, but what’s more: the Chinese Communist Party deploys dollars just as much as it does cloaks and daggers to get its hands on valuable knowledge.
There are many American scholars – often doing research funded by American taxpayers – that have been lured into the Chinese Communist Party’s talent recruitment programs. The CCP pays them what is for them a fortune to do research related to their current fields for, or in, China – and then often uses the fruits of their brainpower to build its military strength.
A researcher from my home state of Kansas was caught up in this trap, as was the Harvard chemistry department head. Think about that.
The Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, recently described the CCP’s strategy as “rob, replicate and replace.”
But I want to add another “r” to the DNI’s list: I want to add “repress.”
Yang Shuping, a student from China, delivered a commencement address at the University of Maryland back in 2017, just a couple years back now. She praised “the fresh air of free speech.” She was soon demonized and harassed by CCP propaganda – propaganda outlets. I promise you, while I cannot tell you everything, that was no coincidence.
One University of Georgia student said of the CCP secret police in 2018, quote, “They have harassed me repeatedly and asked me to give them information about the activities of overseas democracy activists and dissidents, [and] they are particularly interested in the activities of Uyghurs and Tibetans,” end of quote.
Some of the CCP’s biggest victims on campuses are innocent Chinese nationals themselves, and this is a tragedy. We have a responsibility to police this.
Another example: At Princeton, just this year, students in a Chinese politics class were forced to use code names on their work, lest the CCP discover their identities, and prosecute them for free expression of views on Hong Kong and the CCP under its draconian new national security law. That’s right here. This happened right here in the United States of America. American students.
American students talk about “safe spaces” as shelter from ideas they dislike. Chinese students need safe spaces to learn of the ideas that they love. What a stark contrast.
Students from China at American universities also live in fear that their families back home will be arrested, will be interrogated, tortured – or worse – because of things they say in an American classroom.
But look, the CCP doesn’t just target Chinese nationals. They want to influence American students as well, professors and administrators too.
Look, they know that left-leaning college campuses are rife with anti-Americanism, and present easy targets for their anti-American messaging.
That’s why they planted Confucius Institutes on our campuses. And under President Trump, our State Department has made very clear these Confucius Institutes are literally up to no good. Many have gone away. Many campuses have seen that and they’ve chosen to close down these institutes. But right here in Georgia, Wesleyan College still has one in Macon.
Look, it’s why there are groups on campuses called Chinese Students and Scholars Associations here too. They’re directed and almost always funded by the Chinese Embassy or a local Chinese consulate. Its purpose: to keep tabs on students and to press pro-Beijing causes.
Now, you would think at freedom-loving places like Georgia Tech and institutions and scholars all across the world, administrators, school faculty would be more up in arms about the Chinese Communist Party’s outright theft and flagrant violation of freedoms that I’ve described, but we see it too seldom.
Well, why? Why do schools censor themselves? They often do it out of fear of offending China.
Indeed I must tell you that MIT wasn’t interested in having me to their campus to give this exact set of remarks. President Raphael Reif implied that my arguments might insult their ethnic Chinese students and professors. But of course nothing could further from the truth. These are the very people that this set of remarks is intended to protect, to protect their freedoms.
And I must say, the yielding to the objection of hurt feelings plays right into the Chinese Communist Party’s hands. They watch America closely. It’s what the party says constantly in response to legitimate criticism around the world. You can see it.
And how would the party know how the Chinese people feel anyway, as no one ever gets to vote?
Look, we can’t let the CCP weaponize political correctness against American liberties. We have to protect and preserve them.
Fraudulent cries of racism or Sinophobia should never drown out a candid exposure of the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.
But we see too often on American campuses that there is silence and censorship. It’s being driven by the Chinese Communist Party. It usually boils down to something far less idealistic. So many of our colleges are bought by Beijing.
Let me tell you about Vera Zhou.
She’s a permanent of the resident of the United States of America. She’s originally from China and a senior at the University of Washington.
In October of 2017, so just on three years ago, she returned to China to visit her father. Local authorities put her in a re-education camp, a re-education camp for five months and under house arrest for 18 months after using a virtual private network connection to connect to her school’s website, something many of you are doing even as I speak.
Back here, we saw this. Our State Department team; Vera’s mother; Bob Fu, a great friend of the Chinese people, desperately petitioned the University of Washington to advocate for her return.
But the University of Washington, a woman named Sarah Castro, head of the federal relations office, said – she said that the university wouldn’t help because of a multi-million dollar deal with China.
Now, thank God, Vera was eventually released and returned to the United States, but no thanks to the University of Washington and no thanks to the deal that it had made with the Chinese Communist Party.
The U.S. Department of Education over the last years has found that schools have taken an estimated $1.3 billion from China since 2013. That’s just what we know about. Like so many – like Columbia – so many schools that have failed to report the true amounts.
What more – what more bad decisions will schools make because they are hooked on Chinese Communist Party cash?
What professors will they be able to co-opt or to silence?
What theft and espionage will they simply overlook? What business deals will get done as a result of that?
Look, there’s a lot of work to do. And I have laid out a pattern and practice that every American needs to know about.
And we need to begin to respond to this sooner rather than later. And our administration has begun to do that, but there is an awful lot more work to do.
We cannot allow this tyrannical regime to steal our stuff, to build their military might and brainwash our people, or buy off our institutions to help them cover up these activities.
We cannot – we cannot let the CCP crush the academic freedom that has blessed our country and blessed us with great institutions like the place that I am standing today.
But we need your help.
We need help of students. We need help of faculty. We need help of administrations all across America. We need trustees to police their endowments and the deals their universities are striking with the CCP and CCP-backed groups.
We need administrators to close Confucius Institutes and investigate what so-called student groups backed by the CCP money are actually up to on their campuses. The government will help, but we need people to assist us.
We need researchers to be vigilant against fraud and theft, and the academic community to reject the CCP’s financial siren songs.
And we need students to truly stand for free speech – the free speech for themselves, those who grew up here in America, and especially the free speech of Chinese students who are on our campuses, who are here to study and learn and to improve their rights, their lives, and to enjoy the fruits of the freedom that we provide them here in the United States of America.
Look, we need you all to speak to truth to power in solidarity when administrations exert pressures on censorship as has so often happened to project deals – protect deals with Beijing.
Let’s do this. Let’s carry forward a banner of freedom to defend our schools, what these institutions were built upon. It will aid our national security. And from the central threat of our time, the Chinese Communist Party.