Us Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused China of putting pressure on US universities to water down or ban criticism of the Chinese government. US President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to consolidate its anti-China policies, with Pompeo taking aim at MIT and the University of Washington, claiming they refuse to address Trump’s concerns about Chinese attempts to influence students and academics. American universities also censor themselves to avoid upsetting Beijing, he said.
Pompeo noted that the US Department of Education in recent years has found that us universities have received an estimated $1.3 billion from China since 2013, and that this is only the known portion, and that many, such as Columbia University in New York, do not report the correct amount. He questions how many bad decisions these schools still make because they are hooked on Chinese government money, and whether they are still wooing and banning professors and ignoring theft and espionage.
“Americans must know how the Chinese government is poisoning our higher education for its own purposes, and how these actions undermine our freedom and our national security,” Pompeo said. If we don’t know it, we will be assimilated by Beijing in the future. They know that left-leaning American college campuses are full of anti-Americanism, so they send their message to the target audience who is receptive to anti-Americanism.” Pompeo has long expressed tough positions on China policy in Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea, and he has made similar statements in the past, as well as imposing multiple levels of sanctions on Chinese officials. But the Associated Press called his attack on two US universities for alleged Chinese complicity shocking.
Cna also quoted Pompeo as saying that the Chinese government is not only targeting Chinese students, they also want to influence American students, professors and school administrators. Academic institutions rarely criticise Beijing for blatant theft and violations of freedom, or even for self-censorship, for fear of offending China. He added: “To give in to claims of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people is just to fall into the trap of the Chinese government, which is Beijing’s consistent response to legitimate criticism. The outside world should not use the So-called political correctness of the Chinese government as a weapon to attack American freedom, nor should it allow false accusations such as racial discrimination or anti-China accusations to drown out efforts to expose the actions of the Chinese government.”
Faced with Pompeo’s attack, MIT and the University of Washington strongly and quickly denied the charge. Meanwhile, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he will take a different approach to China next year. As vice president under former President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden struck a number of deals with China. But Mr Trump has so far refused to recognise Mr Biden’s victory in 2020, portraying him as trying to soften the pressure on China.
Pompeo was scheduled to travel to THE Massachusetts Institute of Technology to give a speech on technology development in Georgia, but he said the university clearly had no intention of letting him do so. “Rafael Reif, the director of MIT’s Institute for Innovation and Technology, has suggested to students that the arguments I am about to publish may be insulting to their Chinese students or professors,” he lashed out.
Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for MIT, rejected Pompeo’s claim, saying the university declined to host the speech because of the COVID-19 outbreak. She added that other expected high-level events had also been rejected. “Our real concern is that a high-level visit or speech will not only attract crowds, but also signal to students that the rules have not been taken seriously,” she said. Rafael Reif verbally expressed his regret to the students about the university’s final decision.”
Not only MIT, Pompeo also attacked Sarah Castro, director of federal relations at the University of Washington, for allegedly refusing to help Vera Zhou, a Chinese student who was detained in China in 2017, in order to avoid damaging multimillion-dollar deals with China. Speaking about the student, Pompeo added: “Now I want to thank God that Vera Zhou has finally been released and is back in the United States, but we don’t have to thank the University of Washington and we don’t have to thank China for our cooperation.”
The University of Washington also hit back, with university spokesman Victor Balta calling Pompeo’s comments a “shameful” and “cruel” bias by the US government, adding that he did not assist in rescuing Vera Zhou. He said: “It is very strange that the Secretary of state of the United States thinks that universities have more power in this situation than the US government. “Pompeo’s statement is completely wrong. It is not the right thing for the U.S. government to do to directly attack by name.” He also reiterated that the University has no track record of any negotiations with China, and U.S. officials have no idea what the “multimillion-dollar deal” Pompeo refers to is. As for Vera Zhou, she will re-enroll at the University of Washington starting this quarter.