Speaking at Georgia Institute of Technology in December, Pompeo said that the US could not let the CCP “crush the academic freedom that has blessed our country and blessed us with great institutions”.

He cited cases of students and scholars who had been harassed by the Chinese authorities and criticised in state media, as well as alleged People’s Liberation Army staff who failed to disclose their affiliation when applying for visas.

He additionally criticised institutions for accepting money from the Chinese government.

“The US Department of Education over the last years has found that schools have taken an estimated $1.3 billion from China since 2013. That’s just what we know about,” he said.

In October, a department of education report revealed colleges and universities had failed to disclose more than $6.5 billion in funding and resources from donors including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

Pompeo also claimed that MIT wouldn’t allow him to give a speech because it was implied his arguments “might insult their ethnic Chinese students and professors”. MIT told The PIE News that they declined his visit, along with other guests, due to Covid-19.

He also highlighted the case of University of Washington student Vera Zhou, who was sent to a reeducation camp in Xinjiang, claiming “the university wouldn’t help because of a multi-million dollar deal with China”.

“The university wouldn’t help because of a multi-million dollar deal with China”

The University of Washington said it had “no idea what ‘multimillion-dollar deal’ was being referenced.

“This is the latest false statement and shameful deflection from an administration whose state department and department of education took no effective action on behalf of Vera Zhou in response to the university’s requests, and now wishes to shift attention from that failure,” said a spokesperson.

“That the secretary of state would think a university has more power in this situation than the US government is bizarre.”

Pompeo called for “trustees to police their endowments and the deals their universities are striking with the CCP and CCP-backed groups”.

“We need administrators to close Confucius Institutes and investigate what so-called student groups backed by the CCP money are actually up to on their campuses. The government will help, but we need people to assist us. We need researchers to be vigilant against fraud and theft, and the academic community to reject the CCP’s financial siren songs,” he said.

“We need administrators to investigate what so-called student groups backed by the CCP money are actually up to”

“We want these [Chinese] students, but when they’re here, it can’t be the case that they live in fear, right – these institutions – you all have an obligation to protect these students as well. These students are returning home to suffer.”

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying called Pompeo’s comments “wrong, disgraceful and intolerable”.

“Relevant cooperation, mutually beneficial, above-board and beyond reproach, has been welcomed by the American academic community and public,” she said.

“Pompeo’s acts are clearly deeply unpopular. We once again urge the likes of Pompeo to respect facts and stop fabricating and spreading falsehoods.”

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