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House Committee Targets U.C. Berkeley Program for China Ties

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A congressional committee focused on national security threats posed by China said it had “grave concerns” about research partnerships between the University of California, Berkeley and several Chinese companies, and said the partnership could lead to advanced He argued that the research could help the Chinese government obtain economic and technological benefits. Or military superiority.

In a letter sent last week to officials at Berkeley and the University of California system, the House Select Committee of the Communist Party of China said that China’s prestigious Tsinghua University and China’s prestigious Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, established in 2014, requested extensive information on Shenzhen city in China.

The letter cites the Institute’s research into certain “dual-use technologies” employed by both civilian and military organizations, such as advanced semiconductor and imaging technologies used to map terrain and drive self-driving cars. points out.

The committee also questioned whether Berkeley had adequately disclosed China’s funding of the institute, citing links with Chinese universities and companies that have been subject to US sanctions in recent years. . National Defense Institute of Technologytelecommunications company Huawei and Chinese drone maker DJI.

He also said Berkeley faculty at the institute are developing military applications with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other U.S. funding, citing China’s access to these experts. There are increasing concerns that

For example, a team at the Shenzhen-based lab, which claims to be backed by the Tsinghua Berkley Shenzhen Lab, said in April: won the contest According to the letter, the U.S. government is now stepping up cooperation in China to optimize a kind of advanced chip technology that it is trying to block from being taken over by Chinese companies.

It is not clear what role the university played in the project, or whether the partnership or other activities of the institute violate US restrictions on access to Chinese technology. in the United States in October set drastic limits On the types of advanced semiconductor technology that could be shared with Chinese companies, he said the activity poses a national security threat.

The letter referred to the People’s Republic of China, saying that “the Chinese government-backed cooperation between Berkeley and Tsinghua raises many red flags.” The document was signed by Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the Commission, and Rep. Virginia Fox, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Education and Workforce Commission.

In a statement to the New York Times, the University of California, Berkeley said it takes national security concerns “very seriously” and is committed to comprehensive compliance with laws governing international academic activity. .

“The university is reviewing past agreements and actions involving or related to the Tsinghua Berkeley Shenzhen Institute,” the university said, and “will cooperate fully and transparently with the federal government’s investigation.” .

The University also responds to inquiries from the Department of Education with detailed information regarding gifts and contracts related to the Institute, and strives to comply fully with the laws governing such arrangements, and is committed to “congressional and federal regulation.” We are following the instructions of the authorities,” he said. In evaluating proposed research relationships with foreign bodies. “

Universities also say that while academic researchers are potentially valuable, they focus on basic research that is quickly published in public journals, so even if foreign governments infiltrate such partnerships, He emphasizes that there may be little to gain.

“In principle, Berkeley conducts research that is open to the entire global scientific community,” the university said in a statement.

the letter and Other accusations Lawmakers’ views on U.S. universities affiliated with Chinese partners highlight how rapid developments in U.S.-China relations are putting renewed pressure on academic partnerships established to share information and break down barriers between the two countries. It embosses what you are wearing.

The Chinese government has sought to improve the country’s technological prowess not only through legitimate commercial partnerships, but also through espionage, cyber theft and coercion. Those efforts, along with programs that blend military and civilian innovation, have sparked a U.S. backlash against Chinese academic and commercial ties that might have seemed relatively harmless a decade ago.

The selection committee, which was set up this year, describes its mission as building consensus on threats from the Chinese Communist Party and developing a U.S. defense plan. Bipartisan committees led by Republicans can make legislative recommendations, but they cannot enact legislation on their own. In congressional hearings, investigations and letters, he has been busy naming and blaming big companies and others for their ties to China.

Tensions between the United States and China have escalated, with some lawmakers advocating decoupling the two economies. But severing academic ties is a daunting prospect. American universities are open and collaborative, and their staff includes many Chinese scholars. China’s significant technology industry and huge population of science and technology PhD holders make China a natural attraction for many research collaborations.

Still, the rapid expansion of U.S. export controls has increased restrictions on the types of information and data related to advanced technology that can be lawfully shared with Chinese individuals and organizations. Under the new rules, even bringing laptops with certain chip designs into China, or even giving Chinese nationals a tour of advanced chip labs in the United States, could be against the law. be.

A House committee called on the universities to provide extensive documentation and information about the partnership, including funding, structure and technical commitments, by July 27. Alumni’s current and past affiliations. and compliance with US export regulations.

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