February 9, 2022 | The Hill

House bill seeks to prolong higher ed’s China hangover

February 9, 2022 | The Hill

House bill seeks to prolong higher ed’s China hangover

Excerpt

Last month, the House Rules Committee unveiled the America Competes Act, which promotes semiconductor production and boosts domestic research funding. The bill is part of a broader effort to better position America to compete strategically with China in technology and other related sectors. This bill, along with its Senate companion, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, supports the Biden administration’s goal of showing “China and the rest of the world that the 21st century will be the American century — forged by the ingenuity and hard work of our innovators, workers, and businesses.”

For its part, China has also announced multi-billion-dollar investments to domestically develop new and emerging technologies. But, for all of Beijing’s talk of tech self-sufficiency, Chinese leader Xi Jinping remains committed to exhausting “all means necessary” to lure global talent to China to support his country’s technological modernization. This includes enabling military-civil fusion (MCF), a strategy aimed at acquiring the world’s cutting-edge technologies — including through theft — to achieve Chinese military dominance.

China’s civilian university system, its students, and professors figure prominently in China’s strategy. But, so do foreign academics and universities. Such endeavors, including China’s Thousand Talents program, are focused on obtaining everything from foundational knowledge taught on U.S. college campuses to cutting-edge research, much of which is not technically classified but has potential military applications. Recently, these efforts have ensnared several prominent academics, including Harvard University professor Charles Lieber, who was convicted in December 2021 on six felony tax evasion charges stemming from his undisclosed consulting relationship with the Chinese government.

Craig Singleton is a senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan research institute focused on foreign policy and national security. He recently published a research monograph entitled, “The Middle Kingdom Meets Higher Education: How U.S. Universities Support China’s Military Industrial Complex.”  Follow him on Twitter @CraigMSingleton.

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Issues:

China