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House Democrats silent as GOP probes China’s infiltration of U.S. universities

‘It would be absolutely baffling if they chose not to join us; are they worried about what we might turn up?’

Democratic lawmakers so far have not indicated an interest in joining a recently launched GOP-led effort to probe China’s infiltration of America’s colleges and universities.

Most Democratic lawmakers have remained silent on universities’ questionable financial ties to China and the communist country’s Thousand Talents program, which the FBI believes it uses to steal intellectual property cultivated through American research.

Moreover, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has shown no interest in the issue as Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives move forward investigating financial ties between American universities and the Chinese government.

On May 4, seven leading House Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education Secretary asking it to turn over documents on all findings or reports detailing gifts from China to U.S. colleges and universities, as well as details on all open and closed investigations by the department “regarding false or misleading reporting of foreign gifts.”

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also requested a briefing on the documents from the Education Department. That briefing was held on Wednesday of last week. No Democrats or Democratic staffers participated in the call, according to those familiar with the briefing.

In fact, Democratic lawmakers have not publicly joined Republicans in pressing for more information into the Chinese infiltration of American college campuses. This despite a letter sent in April by Jordan and other members of the Oversight Committee seeking to work together with Democrats on broader China-related issues.

“Now that it’s clear from the department’s letter and briefing — as well as the colleges’ efforts to hide information from us — that this is a significant concern, we would hope that Chairwoman Maloney and the other chairmen from the committees that signed on to the original letter will join our request, which is all that is needed to allow the department to immediately provide Congress will all the relevant and necessary information to get to the bottom of this,” a spokesperson for House Republicans told The College Fix via e-mail.

“We will formally ask Chairman Maloney and her Democrat colleagues to join us in the coming days, just as we already have on our other investigations concerning China,” the GOP spokesman added. “And given the amount of information we now have, It would be absolutely baffling if they chose not to join us; are they worried about what we might turn up?”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Maloney declined multiple requests by The Fix to comment for this story.

“This ought to be simple: We shouldn’t allow the Chinese Communist Party or any other adversary to buy their way into our colleges and universities so they can steal our research and indoctrinate our students,” said House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations ranking member Jody Hice (R-GA) in an e-mail to The College Fix. “This isn’t a partisan problem; this is an American problem. The only thing partisan here is the Democrats’ refusal to deal with the issue.”

In a May 19 letter to House Republicans, the Department of Education acknowledged China’s entanglements with American universities should be a bipartisan issue. In the letter, department General Counsel Reed Rubinstein agreed to host a one-hour presentation detailing the department’s China findings for House Republicans, as well as a separate briefing for Democrats.

“The danger posed to our national interest by undisclosed IHE (Institutes of Higher Education) foreign funding and lax federal enforcement is thoroughly nonpartisan in nature,” read the letter.

MORE: Universities try to block Congress from seeing ties to China

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About the Author
Senior Reporter
Christian focuses on investigative, enterprise and analysis reporting. He is the author of "1916: The Blog" and has spent time as a political columnist at USA Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and National Review Online. His op-eds have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, City Journal, Weekly Standard and National Review. He has also been a frequent guest on political television and radio shows. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Marquette University and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.