FIRST ON FOX: The University of Pennsylvania, home of President Biden’s think tank, recently tripled its donations originating from China, records reviewed by Fox News Digital show.
The Washington, D.C., office of Biden’s think tank, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, previously found itself under a microscope after confidential documents were found at the center. The discovery led to questions regarding Chinese donations to the University of Pennsylvania, which harbors the think tank.
New records obtained by Americans for Public Trust (APT) and provided to Fox News Digital show that the University of Pennsylvania recently saw its donations from China exponentially swell from its previous reporting period, and some of the money has come from individuals and institutions with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“As America’s adversaries continue threatening U.S. national security interests under President Biden’s watch, it’s no surprise that donations to our colleges and universities from Chinese nationals have continued to surge,” Caitlin Sutherland, APT’s executive director, told Fox News Digital.
“This is yet another clear signal that our institutions of higher education have become instruments of foreign influence under an administration that projects weakness on the global stage,” Sutherland said. “The tripling of Chinese donations to the University of Pennsylvania, home to Biden’s think tank, should raise serious alarms among lawmakers who are interested in curbing the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The records obtained by APT from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education reveal the university pulled in $25 million in contributions from entities and individuals in China between mid-2022 and mid-2023. This figure is a significant expansion over the $8.6 million they received from the country during its previous reporting period covering mid-2021 to mid-2022.
The Ivy League school has amassed nearly $130 million in donations from China between mid-2018 and mid-2023, an exponential boost from its previous years.
Meanwhile, several of its China-based contributors have links to the CCP.
According to the foreign gift report, an investment manager gave three donations totaling $205,000 between mid-2022 and mid-2023. Chung-nin Rock Chen, who obtained an economics degree from the university’s Wharton School and an MBA from Northwestern University, is not only the Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress but also a member of the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The CPPCC is the “key mechanism for multi-party cooperation and political consultation” under the leadership of the CCP, according to the CPPCC website. Tung Chee-hwa, who served as a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from 2005 to 2023, is the founding chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), which has been successful at penetrating American universities on behalf of the CCP.
One report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a U.S. government agency, in 2018 said that the CPPCC is a “central part” of China’s United Front system, which works to “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
Another major Chinese donor to the University of Pennsylvania was Kathy Xu, or Xu Xin, who donated at least $10 million in December 2022. Xu is the founder of Capital Today, a Chinese private equity firm that was an early investor in the Chinese internet company Meituan Dianping, which has deep ties to the CCP. Bloomberg reported in 2021 that the company’s CEO, Wang Xing, attended a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, signaling the billionaire was back in favor of the party.
In April 2023, Xu Xin, an alumnus of Nanjing University, met with Tan Tieniu, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, at her company and they “exchanged views on NJU’s new progress such as the university-wide discussion, the Forging Ahead Initiate, and the latest developments in fundamental scientific research,” a press release said.
“The two sides signed a new round of donation agreements to further promote the construction and development of key disciplines at the university,” the press release continued. In 2021, Tieniu was one of several Chinese officials sanctioned by the Biden administration and was one of the “Deputy Directors of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG),” which Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was China’s “main platform for projecting its influence in Hong Kong.”
In July 2022, RemeGen Co., Ltd., a Chinese biopharmaceuticals company with research labs and offices throughout China and the United States, paid $170,550 to the University of Pennsylvania as part of a contract. A Fox News Digital review found that Dr. Jianmin Fang, the executive director and CEO of Remegen, was previously awarded the “National Distinguished Expert” by the organization department of the Central Committee of the CCP.
Weidong Wang, the executive director and chairman of the Remegen board, also has CCP ties, previously serving as the “deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress” and currently serving as the “deputy to the 14th National People’s Congress since 2023,” according to his company biography.
“The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China is the supreme organ of state power. Its permanent body is the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” a Chinese government website says. “The National People’s Congress is composed of deputies elected from the provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, and special administrative regions, and of deputies elected from the armed forces.”
Fox News Digital previously reported that Ma Jianrong, a Chinese billionaire and CEO of Shenzhou International, donated at least $500,000 to the University of Pennsylvania in 2022. According to a 2017 New York Times article, Jianrong is a “member of the Chinese Communist Party” and “an official in the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress.” A nonprofit group called KnowTheChain previously ranked Shenzhou International poorly for disclosing “significantly less information on its forced labor policies and practices than its peers.”
During a 2020 interview with China’s state-run Global Times, Jianrong said, “We respect cultural and social customs. Only by uniting local workers can foreign expansion be successful… Our foreign employees have been well treated and no strike or other conflict has occurred since we began investing overseas 15 years ago.”
“When we introduce to the foreign partners the economic development in China, we pay attention to details,” he added.
Biden was hired as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania weeks after leaving the vice presidency in 2017, where he was paid $776,527 in 2017 and 2018, nearly double what its full-time professors made during the same time, Philadelphia Magazine reported in 2019.
The publication wrote that Biden’s professorship was “really more of speaking residency” and that “[h]e’s been on campus so infrequently that it becomes news when he actually is there,” which was a total of six times.
The Penn Biden Center opened in February 2018 and was founded on “the principle that a democratic, open, secure, tolerant, and interconnected world benefits all Americans.”
In 2019, Biden took an unpaid leave of absence from the university after he announced his presidential campaign.
The White House revealed in early 2023 that classified documents dating back to Biden’s time as vice president had been discovered at the center in November 2022. The president’s attorneys then handed the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration.
“The Penn Biden Center has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity. In fact, the University has never solicited any gifts for the Center,” Stephen MacCarthy, the university’s former vice president of communications, previously told Fox News Digital.
MacCarthy added that since its inception, two American donors provided three unsolicited gifts totaling $1,100 for the Biden Center and that “one hundred percent” of the center’s budget is from university funds.
“Penn is fully compliant with federal law regarding the reporting of foreign gifts and contracts, as foreign gifts are all properly reported to the U.S. Department of Education as required by Section 117 of the Higher Education Act,” MacCarthy said.
The University of Pennsylvania did not respond to a Fox News Digital inquiry for this article.
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