EXCLUSIVE: House China Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher warned top universities of efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to spread its “coercive influence” on campuses across the nation as it works to strengthen its international position while “eroding” the U.S.’
Gallagher, R-Wis., on Monday addressed dozens of university presidents at the annual meeting of the Association of American Universities, urging the leaders of the institutions to be “clear-eyed” about the threat posed by the CCP to their universities.
The event was closed to the press, but Fox News Digital obtained a copy of Gallagher’s prepared remarks.
“For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has exploited the very openness at the heart of American society, and our higher education system in particular, twisting this strength to the Party’s own advantage,” Gallagher said, adding that the CCP’s goal is “not mutual benefit.”
“The CCP’s goal is to leverage technological advances, spread its coercive influence, and enmesh dependencies to strengthen its international position while eroding ours,” he said. “The question — as I see it — is how do we respond in a way that preserves our free and open society — including our higher education system with all its natural strengths — while maintaining our moral, intellectual and financial integrity?”
Gallagher said that universities need to better protect their students from CCP “harassment and attacks,” while adding that Congress should take steps to prohibit the operation of any student group that receives funding or direction from “adversarial governments like China’s,” which he said “seeks to repress students on American campuses.”
“The Chinese Communist Party cannot be allowed to compromise academic freedom, undermine our values, or expand their Orwellian police state to U.S. soil. But that’s exactly what the CCP is doing,” he explained, telling university leaders that he has met with “dozens of students” from China across the nation who have shared with him “story after story of being harassed, followed, and physically attacked for simple offenses like hanging posters or organizing panels — anything at all that strays from the CCP party line.”
“Most students spoke to us under the condition of anonymity because they fear reprisal from the Chinese Communist Party against them and their families in China,” he said. “For a comment about Taiwan or a rally for Hong Kong, their relatives in China are terrorized by police.”
Gallagher said “many students never return home, afraid of what awaits.”
“Among those who do, some are detained,” he said. “They are surveilled on U.S. campuses, electronically tracked, reported back to Chinese Security Services.”
He added: “This is a reality in America today, on campuses across the country. We must decide: Will America remain a haven from persecution or become a hunting ground for authoritarians?”
Gallagher also pointed to Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA), which he said are “a bigger problem” than Confucius Institutes.
Gallagher said there are 150 CSSA chapters across the U.S. The groups were created in the aftermath of Tiananmen, when Chinese students “played a key role in organizing demonstrations, these groups ostensibly exist to support the unique needs and communities of Chinese students studying abroad.”
“In practice, they often double as a mechanism for the Party to restrain the free speech and liberty of the same students they are supposed to serve,” Gallagher warned, noting that many CSSAs “officially describe themselves as under the ‘guidance’ or ‘leadership’ of the (Chinese) embassy.”
Meanwhile, Gallagher also urged universities to rethink how they collaborate with researchers and institutions that are affiliated with the CCP or the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He said Congress should also take steps to restrict Department of Defense-funded research collaborations with institutions affiliated with the PLA.
“We can’t allow tax-advantaged entities like endowments, foundations and retirement plans to fund Chinese military technologies that may be targeting American service members as we speak,” he said.
Gallagher also warned endowment managers about their “fiduciary obligations.”
“And we’re not just concerned about intellectual capital and endowment capital going to China. We also want to make sure we understand the money coming in from China and what it buys,” he explained, adding that Congress needs to ensure that laws are enforced that require universities to disclose any foreign money.
Since 2013, American universities reported receiving more than $1 billion in donations, but Gallagher said that figure is “likely a vast understatement as universities routinely fail to report foreign money, and the PRC increasingly uses American 501c(3)s to avoid detection.”
Gallagher said universities need to restrict outbound capital investment into China and be transparent about their foreign investments. He also said Congress needs to prohibit tax-advantaged entities like endowments, foundations and retirement plans to fund Chinese military technologies, and enforce Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which requires universities to disclose foreign money.
“U.S. universities must be transparent about financial ties with adversary regimes,” he warned.
It is unclear, at this point, which universities attended Gallagher’s remarks, but according to the Association of American Universities, there are 71 institutions involved in the organization.
Those universities include Boston University, New York University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Minnesota, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Northwestern University, George Washington University, Brown University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Yale University and more.
Gallagher chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. The committee was created by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to address the threat posed by Beijing, which national security officials from both Republican and Democrat administrations have warned is the greatest threat to the U.S.
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