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China Dominance of US Universities Comes Into Focus

Don’t expect academic officials to pull away any time soon.

by | May 4, 2024 | Articles, Education

Americans have fully woken up to the harsh reality that their nation’s top geopolitical foe, China, has established a firmly planted enormous business footprint within the interior of the United States. They may or may not want to take a similar look at higher education, however, as the situation there is even more alarming.

“Nearly 200 US colleges and universities held contracts with Chinese businesses, valued at $2.32 billion, between 2012 and 2024, according to a review by The Wall Street Journal of disclosures made to the Education Department,” the paper reported in April. “The extensive trade in American expertise presents a quandary for universities and policymakers in Washington: Where’s the line between fostering academic research and empowering a US rival?”

Good question. As always, it comes down to money. Just as with corporate America, there’s a lot of revenue to be gleaned from working with China.

‘Most Lucrative Agreements’

“American universities sign contracts around the world to sell their research and training expertise, and some of their most lucrative agreements have been with companies based in China,” the WSJ article states. “Schools say the practice of matching Chinese funding with American expertise often serves the public good, like developing new cancer treatments. Yet, to critics, the Communist Party’s control over China’s business sector can taint even those pursuits.”

National security threat or not, America’s credentialed universities are deeply unwilling to let this money spigot go.

In a highly revealing opinion piece published by Foreign Affairs in September, former MIT President L. Rafael Reif was brazenly unapologetic about working hand-in-hand with China on the most sensitive of cutting-edge technological pursuits. His op-ed warrants attention:

“Yet these days, I often hear the question: Why would an American university want to educate the human capital of an unfriendly country? The answer is that, on balance, educating international talent, including that of unfriendly nations, is overwhelmingly beneficial to the United States. Nationwide, in fields as crucial to the economy and national security as engineering, computer science, and mathematics, more than half of American doctorates go to international students.


“The National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates tells us that the majority of these international doctoral recipients – including nearly three out of four Chinese doctoral recipients – intend to remain in the United States after their studies. And despite the obstacles the US government sets, most of them find a way to stay.


“In 2017, 90 percent of the STEM students from China who had earned doctoral degrees in the United States between 2000 and 2015 were still in the United States, helping the country advance. Instead of contributing their considerable talents to their home country, they choose to stay and contribute to the United States. This is a brain gain that the country should be celebrating.”

Reif is either unable or unwilling to contemplate why these Chinese nationals would be so eager to remain in the US after completing their studies. A country known for employing intellectual theft on a massive scale is educating its people in America and then having them installed in leading research and technological positions throughout the US. What could possibly go wrong?

A better question to ask is who opened the door to all this vulnerability in the first place? As Liberty Nation documented in December 2020, that would be the dynamic duo of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Creating the China College Pipeline

“As vice president for eight years, Biden actively promoted the influx of Chinese students, and the results were staggering,” LN related. “A 2015 Foreign Policy article reported that ‘[t]he number of Chinese international students has increased nearly fivefold since the 2004-2005 academic year, when there were 62,523 Chinese students stateside.’”

“That startlingly rapid rise in ten years, most of it while Barack Obama was president, is no coincidence. The Obama administration fervently supported a wave that has become so large that Chinese nationals now make up a third of all international students studying in the US today,” the article continued.

It has all been extremely profitable for America’s major-brand universities that have returned the favor by ramping up their woke progressive academic assault on traditional societal norms. It all makes for another catastrophe unfolding in real-time, as naïve leftist ideology seamlessly melds with selfish financial gain at the great expense of US national security.

“Universities are uniquely able to build bridges through education, research, and joint problem solving,” Reif coos in his Foreign Affairs op-ed. “Because they employ the shared common language of science and scholarship, at moments when dialogue seems to be impossible, they are sometimes the only institutions still able to build those bridges. American universities should accept and embrace the responsibility to build them, despite the political headwinds.”

It is not a coincidence that the so-familiar soothing slogans of progressive feel-good globalism are deployed to conceal the bitter truth that China presents a colossal geopolitical threat to America that is best described as open but cold warfare. When the cash is filling the university endowment coffers, hackneyed liberal phrasings sure can come in handy.

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