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US committee targets Georgia Tech's alleged ties to Chinese military linked research

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses a U.S. congressional committee's inquiry into the alleged ties between the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and a Chinese university, Tianjin University, which has been linked to China's military. The committee has asked Georgia Tech to provide details on its collaboration with Tianjin University on cutting-edge technologies, despite the latter's documented ties to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] US Committee's Inquiry

1. What is the focus of the U.S. congressional committee's inquiry?

  • The U.S. congressional committee on China has asked Georgia Tech to detail its collaboration with Tianjin University, a Chinese university that has been added to the U.S. Commerce Department's export restrictions list due to its alleged ties to China's military.

2. What are the key concerns raised by the committee?

  • The committee noted that Tianjin University and its affiliates have been added to the Commerce Department's export restrictions list for actions contrary to U.S. national security, including trade secret theft and research collaboration to advance China's military.
  • The committee raised questions about Georgia Tech's compliance with the entity list restrictions, given its collaboration with Tianjin University on developing sensitive technologies.

3. How did Georgia Tech respond to the committee's inquiry?

  • A Georgia Tech spokesperson stated that the university's Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) does not have a collaboration, research partnership, or provide any funding to Tianjin University.
  • The spokesperson also said that Georgia Tech is continuously monitoring the evolving U.S.-China relationship and has implemented additional procedures and protocols to ensure security and maintain vigilance.

[02] Georgia Tech's Collaboration with Tianjin University

1. What was the nature of the collaboration between Georgia Tech and Tianjin University?

  • Georgia Tech partnered with Tianjin University on cutting-edge technologies, despite Tianjin University's documented ties to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
  • The collaboration resulted in the creation of the world's first functional semiconductor made from the nanomaterial, graphene, which could lead to a "paradigm shift" in electronics and faster computing.

2. How did the Georgia Tech researcher involved in the project defend the research?

  • The Georgia Tech professor who directed the program, Walter de Heer, stated that all the research results were available to the public, the project had passed extensive legal reviews, and only a small portion of the funding came from GTRI, which is heavily sponsored by the Pentagon.
  • De Heer said the research was still about a decade away from viable implementation, but he had been unable to obtain U.S. government or private sector funding for follow-on research despite its promise.

3. What was the impact of the deteriorating U.S.-China relations on the collaboration?

  • De Heer stated that the deteriorating U.S.-China relations had derailed what had been a fruitful scientific endeavor with Chinese researchers.

[03] Broader Context

1. What is the broader context of the U.S. government's scrutiny of China's influence on American universities?

  • The U.S. Justice Department under the Biden administration ended a Trump-era program called the China Initiative, which was intended to combat Chinese espionage and intellectual property theft, but was criticized for sparking racial profiling towards Asian Americans and chilling scientific research.
  • However, U.S. agencies and Congress have stepped up scrutiny of China's state-sponsored influence and technology transfers at American colleges and universities, concerned that Beijing uses open and federally funded research environments in the U.S. to circumvent export controls and other national security laws.
  • Various congressional bodies have recommended stricter China-related measures be added to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which requires U.S. colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disclose foreign ownership, control, gifts, and contracts.
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