Washington Update

State Department Reaches Out to College and University Boards on Ties to China

August 21, 2020

In a letter sent to higher education leaders this week, Keith Krach, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment at the Department of State, warned of the ongoing threat from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the U.S., and colleges and universities in particular. The letter is intended to be shared with the members of college and university governing boards.

In the letter, Krach points to the partnership between higher education institutions and the State Department on issues like academic freedom, and seeks to inform college and university board members of “real and urgent” threats from the CCP that have broad implications for ensuring academic freedom, honoring human dignity, protecting university endowment investments and safeguarding intellectual property.

A former university board member Krach cites the State Department’s concern for the CCP and specific individuals, not with the general Chinese population or most international students. The State Department’s goal is to create a more transparent relationship where U.S. and Chinese scholars can work together in a safe environment, while protecting U.S. technology and economic security from CCP influence.

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