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China’s Covert Operations | Closer scrutiny on university grants and language institutions is welcome

Closer scrutiny is needed for 369 private universities and another 46 deemed universities, not to mention the several hundreds of private institutions which are more than willing to accept money from anywhere

January 18, 2021 / 01:39 PM IST

Even as the United States banishes various Chinese companies from its bourses and ponders more restrictions, a close scrutiny of public records by a media outlet indicated that Chinese companies who had been involved in extensive cyber-attacks and espionage had funnelled millions of dollars into US universities.

Australian institutions seem to have been similarly exposed to Chinese largesse which targets students and faculty alike. While there is close analysis of financing of China’s covert operations, there has so far been little data available on Beijing’s ‘influence operations’ on this most volatile segment of society.

The whole operation has come to public notice with the media house accessing federal records of donations made to US universities, which revealed that prestigious institutions such as Duke University was operating a joint campus with Wuhan University, which has repeatedly carried out cyber-attacks on behalf of the Chinese military.

The North Western University received millions in research funding from a Chinese defence contractor directly linked to stealing designs of the F-35 fighters. Earlier, a Department of Audit investigation found that US universities had failed to disclose some $6.5 billion in donations from China and other countries. While some of this could be targeted at accessing research for the Chinese PLA, others are assessed as being ‘public outreach’ projects, or quite simply intelligence operations.