Biden administration funding university partnership with Chinese government-run school

Xi Jinping
China’s President Xi Jinping has pledged the world’s top emitter will reach carbon-neutrality by 2060. (Mike Hutchings/AP)

Biden administration funding university partnership with Chinese government-run school

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The Biden administration is bankrolling a University of Virginia partnership with a Chinese university with strong ties to the country’s military, records show.

The National Science Foundation, a federal agency with an over $10.91 billion taxpayer-backed budget in 2023, awarded over $130,500 in October 2022 to the University of Virginia for a climate change research project alongside Tsinghua University, according to federal grant records. That same public Beijing-based university is funded by China’s Ministry of Education and researches for the country’s military.

TOP US HIGH SCHOOL COLLABORATED WITH CHINESE STATE MILITARY-AFFILIATED INSTITUTION

“An important part of researching global challenges like climate change is working with institutions around the world to compare the effects of a warming climate and the efficacy of different proposed solutions,” UVA spokesman Brian Coy told the Washington Free Beacon, which on Thursday first reported on the grant. “As part of those efforts, we take seriously our responsibility to operate within all U.S. laws and regulations regarding the protection of intellectual property and U.S. national security interests.”

Tsinghua University — which was attended by President Xi Jinping — has a CCP Committee that meets regularly to discuss party goals and tries to keep the school “in accordance with President Xi’s hopes,” according to its website. The university is supervised by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank that has said Tsinghua has carried out cyberattacks on behalf of China’s government and trained students on nuclear weapons.

As part of the U.S. grant, which is being disbursed until September 2026, Tsinghua and the University of Virginia will work to “guide the transition to a low-carbon economy” and “the potential to offset emissions with newer technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture,” grant records show. In turn, Tsinghua and the China University of Petroleum-Beijing will aim to “develop a U.S.-Chinese collaborative course on climate leadership skills” that “will lead to better strategies for lowering emissions in the United States that are complementary to those in China.”

“The goal of this work is to develop fundamental engineering, economic, and policy understanding of the dynamics of net-zero plans at the state or provincial level,” the grant description says. “Conducting this research as a collaboration between the United states and China, the top two greenhouse gas emitting countries in the world is critical to create frameworks that can lead the rest of the world to a low carbon future.”

The UVA award comes more than a month after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on American universities to shutter partnerships with schools in China that assist its military. In early March, the Washington Examiner revealed that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which is often ranked as the top public high school in the U.S., pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from Tsinghua as part of an educational partnership. That story led Virginia’s government to demand the high school “cut ties” with China.

UVA has partnered with Tsinghua in the past and lists the Chinese university on its website as an “exchange partner,” meaning students in China can enroll for up to two semesters at UVA.

In 2017, UVA’s engineering department and Tsinghua coordinated on a “teaching collaboration” that paired students up or “homework assignments to explore the intertwined relationship of technology innovation, cultural/national identities, and international politics,” according to UVA.

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Rebecca Keiser, chief of research for security strategy and policy at the National Science Foundation, said like “any international research collaboration,” the agency is only supporting “the U.S. side” of the award.

The foundation “has instituted a first-in-government analytics process to identify research security concerns and ensure transparency when assessing proposals and awards to ensure that any international collaboration provides mutual benefit,” she told the Washington Free Beacon.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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