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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unloaded on officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday, accusing them of refusing to host him because they didn’t want to upset their Chinese interests.
Speaking at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Pompeo accused the Chinese Communist Party of “poisoning” the nation’s higher education system and said American schools were censoring anti-Beijing dissent because they were “hooked on Chinese Communist Party cash.”
“MIT wasn’t interested in having me to their campus to give this exact set of remarks. President Raphael Reif implied that my arguments might insult their ethnic Chinese students and professors,” Pompeo told the crowd in the Peach State.
“But of course nothing could further from the truth. These are the very people that this set of remarks is intended to protect, to protect their freedoms,” he said.
MIT is currently under investigation by the Department of Investigation for failing to fully declare foreign donations from the People’s Republic of China.
A spokeswoman for the Cambridge, Mass., institution denied Pompeo’s account, saying they declined to host the event to follow social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic — as they did with a number of high-profile guests.
“MIT was contacted by a member of the Secretary’s staff in August 2020, seeking a venue for Secretary Pompeo to speak later in the fall. The Institute was honored to be considered,” said Kimberly Allen, MIT’s director of media relations.
“After thorough consideration with his senior team, President Reif concluded that to preserve public health on campus in the fall we must abide fully by our policies of no guests and no gatherings greater than 10 people,” she said.
Communist China has given more than $1.3 billion to US universities since 2013 — sparking a major probe by the Department of Education which concluded that Ivy League institutions were trying to keep their ties to Beijing under wraps.
“Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends, and how those actions degrade our freedoms and American national security,” Pompeo said Wednesday.
The secretary accused Beijing of stealing American technology through covert espionage campaigns and said Confucius Institutes were up to “no good.”
This week, a report said Columbia University accepted $1 million in CCP cash to underwrite an on-campus Confucius Institute — an educational program that the State Department has since branded part of China’s “global influence and propaganda apparatus.”
“They want to influence American students as well. Professors and administrators too,” Pompeo said.
“They know that left-leaning college campuses are rife with anti-Americanism and present easy targets for the anti-American messaging,” he went on.
Harvard and Yale are also under investigation for violating Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which prohibits an “Institution of Higher Learning” from failing to properly report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more
Officials at the department found US universities failed to declare $6.5 billion in funding from foreign countries like China and Saudi Arabia.
The chairman of Harvard University’s chemistry department was charged in January with lying about working with Chinese research agencies.
Anticipating allegations of bigotry, Pompeo said his problem was not with the Chinese people, but their oppressive Communist leaders.
“Some of the CCP’s biggest victims on campuses are innocent Chinese nationals themselves, and this is a tragedy. We have a responsibility to police this,” he said.
The Trump administration has taken a hard line against Beijing’s rising influence around the world and their handling of the first cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan.
In July, the US government ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, accusing Chinese diplomats there of turning the facility into an illegal spying hub.
The Department of Justice also revealed that Chinese consulates in more than two dozen US cities are aiding undercover Communist Party soldiers posing as students to engage in espionage.