Politics

GOP rep demands answers on DOD grant to university with Chinese ties

House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Wednesday evening seeking answers on a research grant to an American university with Chinese ties.

The letter, initially reported on by the Daily Mail, specifically mentions New York’s Alfred University, to whom the Department of Defense issued a five-year grant in 2022 worth $13.5 million to conduct hypersonic weapons research. Gallagher also sent a letter to the university’s president, Mark Zupan, on Wednesday. 

“One university in particular – Alfred – was hosting a Confucius Institute and partnering with a Chinese university ‘actively engaged in defense research’ on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),” Gallagher wrote. “To put it plainly, DOD is funding advanced, hypersonic weapons-related research at an American university that actively partners with a Chinese university that performs similar research for the PLA. We seek additional information regarding this alarming matter and the DOD’s efforts to safeguard sensitive U.S. military research.”

“It is extremely concerning that $17 million in American taxpayer dollars has gone to fund advanced weapons-related research at a university that actively partners with a Chinese research institution working hand in hand with the Chinese military,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital. “It is not a secret that the CCP uses Confucius Institutes to project ‘soft power,’ but it’s time to shed light on how the CCP also uses these institutes to build Chinese ‘hard power’ weapons that could be used against Americans in a future conflict. 

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“I look forward to hearing promptly from DOD and Alfred University on what they are doing to ensure American research security remains intact and that American taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fuel the CCP’s military advancement.”

Gallagher states in the letter that the research grant “will be in violation of the law as of October 1, 2023,” per Section 1062 of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The guidance prohibits the DOD from administering funds to “‘institution[s] of higher education that hosts a Confucius Institute’ after October 1, 2023.” Gallagher wrote that despite the future deadline, Alfred University’s grant could be in violation of the law given that it would end in 2027. 

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The letter goes on to ask for “additional information regarding DOD’s efforts to protect sensitive national security and American taxpayer-funded research from theft or compromise,” given the university’s Confucius Institute in conjunction with its “research agreement with China University of Geosciences in Wuhan,” which currently maintains a research center whose research area is “closely related” to that of Alfred University’s. 

Gallagher’s letter comes a little over a month after Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., also sent a letter to Austin requesting answers on the DOD’s “inadequate guidance” for colleges seeking waivers to host Confucius Institutes on campus while maintaining department funding. 

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“This guidance is an invitation for the Chinese Communist Party to double down on its influence and espionage operations at U.S. universities,” Banks told Fox News Digital at the time. 

In early March, the Senate unanimously passed a bill limiting China’s reach into American universities by tightening restrictions on Confucius Institutes.

Fox News’ Houston Keene and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report. 

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