Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week received a letter from 26 lawmakers urging her to investigate alleged attempts by China to use partnerships with US colleges to steal information and technology. The letter points specifically to Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecom giant the US intelligence community has warned about for years.
“Huawei benefits from extensive government support, which has fueled long-standing concern that the company’s equipment in the US could be used by the Chinese government for spying, cyberattacks, or industrial and economic espionage,” reports The Washington Post.
Huawei has partnerships with more than 50 universities in the United States, where it provides funding for projects in computer science, communications, and engineering. â€¨Lawmakers insist these partnerships represent a threat to national security and urge DeVos to “immediately convene” a “senior level” working group within the Department of Education to better understand China’s attempts to steal information.
“We believe these partnerships may pose a significant threat to national security and this threat demands your attention and oversight,” reads the letter. “Huawei is not a normal private sector company the way we have grown accustomed to thinking of the commercial economy in the West.”
Lawmakers suggested that DeVos meet with the FBI about Huawei and are supporting a proposal that would require any institution working with Huawei to provide information about the partnership.
“It’s fairly obvious to me the Department of Education isn’t at all aware of the threat that Huawei poses, the infiltration that they have succeeded in accomplishing with a broad number of universities around the country,” argues Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who organized the letter with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). “Huawei is a snake in the grass. Their influence on these colleges campuses is alarming.”
The letter to DeVos follows a series of congressional panels on attempts by China and other nations to spy on and steal federally-funded research from universities in the United States and comes amid increasing trade tensions with China over President Trump’s tariffs, which are in part meant to punish Beijing for intellectual property theft.
As confirmed this month by the State Department, the Trump Administration has also imposed new restrictions on Chinese nationals seeking student visas.
“We have used some additional screening instructions to US embassies and consulates to deal with certain individuals from China studying in certain sensitive fields,” said State Department official Edward J. Ramotowski.
Author’s Note: We really need to get a handle on how China is stealing our technology. The very small amount of money they spend to do this kind of thing nets them massive gains in knowledge. In the spy world, having a legitimate presence near your target is the best platform for recruiting agents and stealing information.
Editor’s Note: China is constantly stealing U.S. research and technology. I hope we do indeed wise up on this.