Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged US universities to scrutinize China’s assistance and students, warning that Beijing was set on stealing innovation.
The outgoing top US diplomat, known for his hawkish views on China, made the speech on a visit to Georgia, a state with a growing Asian-American community and which next month holds two elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
Pompeo said that the United States should welcome Chinese who “genuinely” want to study in the country but pointed to two cases of Chinese students who were charged with spying and other examples of Beijing harassing its students abroad.
“If we don’t educate ourselves, if we’re not honest about what’s taking place, we’ll get schooled by Beijing,” Pompeo said in a speech at Georgia Tech.
“The Chinese Communist Party knows it can never match our innovation,” Pompeo said. “That’s why it sends nearly 400,000 students a year to the United States of America.”
He renewed calls for US universities to close all Confucius Institutes, the Beijing-funded institutions that offer Chinese-language instruction but are careful to toe to Beijing’s line on politically sensitive topics.
“We need administrators to close Confucius Institutes and investigate what so-called student groups backed by CCP money are really doing,” Pompeo said.
“We cannot allow this tyrannical regime to steal our stuff, to build their military might, brainwash our people or buy off our institutions to help them cover up these activities.”
Citing Education Department figures, Pompeo said that US universities have taken $1.3 billion from China since 2013 but accused major institutions of underreporting figures.
In language sure to be welcomed by his Republican Party’s right wing, Pompeo alleged that China has made inroads on left-leaning universities as they are “rife with anti-Americanism.”
Pompeo has described China as a central threat to the world and declared that President Donald Trump has turned the page on decades of US engagement of China that have failed.
President-elect Joe Biden has broadly agreed on the challenge from Beijing but has taken a less bellicose tone, with his aides seeing areas of cooperation such as fighting pandemics and climate change.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk