News and Commentary

Report: Taxpayer-Funded University Helped China Make ‘Economic Decisions’

The Chinese government funneled nearly $1.9 million to the University of California-Berkeley.
A cyclist rides his bike on the U.C. Berkeley campus on July 22, 2020 in Berkeley, California. U.C. Berkeley announced plans on Tuesday to move to online education for the start of the school's fall semester due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
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The University of California-Berkeley jointly operated a research center in China that gave economic advice to the Chinese Communist Party. 

According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the university began operating the Guizhou Berkeley Big Data Innovation Research Center (GBIC) in Sept. 2016 alongside the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Chinese province of Guizhou’s local government. The center is located, as the name suggests, in the province of Guizhou, which is relatively poor and underdeveloped. 

According to a press release from the Guizhou government, the center began researching “big data, technological development, studying industrial innovation, incubation, and training.” These technologies are imperative for China to establish domestic and international dominance. 

In a 2020 report, the RAND Corporation concluded that Beijing has placed a newfound emphasis on big data to increase its political and military standing. According to the report, the Chinese government believes that an increase in big data would help its public security forces, undergird its Social Credit System, and position China to win future military conflicts. 

In the same press release, a Berkeley researcher said that the center would provide data support for the local Chinese government “in making economic decisions and improving public services.” 

The taxpayer-funded university admitted in a description of the program that the goal of the research center was to “develop a state-of-the-art platform for Chinese, US, and international researchers and industry to conduct big data research.” Following the Free Beacon’s reporting, the university removed the webpage.

A Berkeley spokesperson told the Free Beacon that the GBIC program is “no longer functioning” and has not been for the last year. 

According to the Department of Education’s dataset on foreign donations, the GBIC has funneled nearly $1.9 million to the University of California-Berkeley over the three-year operating period.

Foreign influence is a growing trend on American college campuses. A review of federal records found that more than 100 U.S. universities have Confucius Institutes, a Chinese government-backed program that pushes Chinese state-sponsored propaganda on American students. 

Universities that do work with foreign nations seldom disclose their financial relationships. Data from the Department of Education show that several top-tier universities, including Cornell and Yale, failed to report more than $3 billion in foreign gifts and funds, much of which came from hostile nations such as China.

The University of California-Berkeley is not alone in its explicit ties to foreign governments either. According to the Clarion Project, Northwestern University’s esteemed journalism program accepted hundred of millions in funding from Qatar and a regime-backed foundation that has links to terrorism. Northwestern also worked hand-in-hand with Al Jazeera — a publication routinely condemned for its anti-semitic takes — to conduct joint research and education programs.  

The University of California-Berkeley did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication. 

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