Congress is keeping an eye on the endowment of the Chinese-affiliated university

Congress’s next move to limit its partnership with China could target America’s top colleges and universities – cutting off their investments in Chinese companies that have been “considered an unacceptable national security risk.” Politico Friday report.

Rep. Greg Murphy, a North Carolina Republican, is drafting a law called the Endowments Protecting Our Opposition Act, which would encourage expulsions from listed U.S. government-approved entities, including those that “oppose” national security or foreign policy. Interest. “

The bill could affect any private college or university with an endorsement of at least 1 billion, including Harvard and Yale universities and other institutions, none of which responded to comments for comment. Inside higher ed.

It will impose a 50 percent excise tax on the original investment for all entities added to a U.S. sanctions list and 100 percent excise tax after the entity has been on the list for more than a year.

On Thursday, Murphy sent a letter to the country’s top 15 private universities asking them to clarify whether their endowments were invested in a list of entities maintained by the US government to identify potentially dangerous entities. It also asks these organizations what their policy is to disassociate themselves from any entity on the US government’s sanctions list.

“We know that the US endowment dollar has financed Chinese companies in the past, and this draft seeks to address the scale of the problem. Colleges and universities have been warned about the national security implications of funding our competitors. The time has come for Congress to speak openly and honestly about the risks of this investment and to take steps to address it, “Murphy said in a statement on the draft law.

According to sources familiar with the matter, it is an unusual practice for universities to invest in entities identified as national security concerns and these universities have little financial advantage to invest in such entities.

In 2019 BuzzFeed Princeton University has invested in China-based two-face recognition software companies, Sunsetime and MagVie, which were used by Chinese authorities to identify Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps, the report said. Princeton will not comment on the investment.

Yale University announced in January 2021 that it would review its $ 42.3 billion endowment for potential investments in companies that contribute to Chinese human rights abuses.

When contacted for comment on the law, Pedro Ribeiro, vice president of the Association of American Universities, which represents one of the country’s leading research universities, said: Right AAU universities are at the forefront of innovation that drives not only our economy but also our national health and safety. We are committed to working with Congress to protect our critical work from unwanted foreign influences. “

The bill follows a movement seeking to use congressional intervention in the university endowment to move toward similar action in the private sector.

The Athenaeum Institute, a student-led group working to combat the Chinese government’s involvement in higher education, has backed the bill.

“We think this is an important step in ensuring that US academic institutions do not knowingly or inadvertently invest in companies involved in human rights abuses by the Chinese government,” said John Metz, president of the organization.

Metz said congressional action would ensure that such investments, which are difficult to track, would be released from the university endowment.

Asked about the current government’s oversight of endowment investments from colleges and universities, Dylan Headtler-Gaudetar, public affairs manager of the government oversight project, said: “There is, in fact, no regulatory framework around it. I think that’s why you see issues here that are trying to target certain members of Congress. “

Hedtler-Gaudetter said it would be the first of its kind for a congressional move to intervene in how universities invest their endowments, but it probably wouldn’t get much acceptance in Congress.

“At the very least, we can talk about academic institutions and their relationships with foreign entities, including foreign institutions that are potentially cross-intended with US national interests,” said Headtler-Gaudeter.

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