On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Georgia Institute of Technology where he spoke about China, warning that we cannot continue to allow the tyrannical regime to rob, replicate, replace and repress our great nation’s ingenuity and successes.

Pompeo began his speech by noting that Georgia Tech, and research institutes like it, are where U.S. National Security and learning intersect deeply. He said Americans must educate themselves about the Chinese Communist Party and how it is poisoning our higher education institutions for its own ends while degrading our national security and freedoms. 

He spoke about Professor Fei-Ling Wang, who traveled to China several years ago. He was nabbed by Chinese officials and held in a secret location for two weeks, where he was interrogated and threatened. The officials wanted information about his time teaching at West Point and his research on China. He was released after pressure from several places, including the Carter Center and Georgia Tech. The message in Pompeo’s story is clear: “The Chinese Communist Party wants what we have, and they will do whatever they must do to take it. They will steal our stuff. They will pressure critics of the Chinese Communist Party to keep quiet. They will do whatever it takes.”

It is not as important how we got where we are, Pompeo explained, but we must understand China’s current trajectory, where they intend to take us. He added,  “Republicans, Democrats, leaders all across academia, institutions, commercial space thought that by trading and engaging with China, that the Chinese Communist Party would reform itself, it would loosen up, it would embrace economic and political freedom, and it would present less risk to freedom around the world. But instead, that’s not what we got. Instead, the Chinese communists used the wealth that was created by this to tighten their grip on powertheir grip on power over the Chinese peopleand to build a high-tech repressive state like the world has never seen.”

According to Pompeo, Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Secretary Xi Jinping is well on his way toward establishing China as the No. 1 power at home and abroad. He is doing this by:

  • Building up the People’s Liberation Army
  • Manipulating international organizations for Beijing’s benefit
  • Engaging in a vast influence campaign all across the world

Pompeo remarked that the Chinese Communist Party knows it can never match our innovation. It is an authoritarian regime with a government-centric focus. It is no accident it sends 400,000 students a year to the United States to study. He added, “Just think about it: Chinese Communist Party scientists aren’t pioneering cancer cures. We are. And it’s not North Korean biochemists that are producing safe COVID vaccines. We are. And Iranians aren’t ahead in supercomputing. No. In fact, we are. It is the free world and free peoples that produce these superior results. And we should be very proud of that fact.”

Much of China’s high-end industrial base is built on stolen technology, or technology purchased from other nations. It is not homegrown; therefore, research institutes in the U.S. play an essential role in China’s progression toward global domination. China operates intently to influence American students, universities, professors, and administratorsand there are many campuses rife with anti-Americanism serving as easy targets. By planting Confucius Institutes on our campuses, the Chinese government keeps tabs on students and promotes a pro-Beijing agenda. These institutes are almost always directed and funded by a local Chinese Institute or the Chinese Embassy. 

Under President Trump, our State Department has confirmed that these Confucius Institutes are “literally up to no good,” and many campuses have chosen to close them down. Yet, they still exist. Wesleyan College in Macon, GA still has one. 

Fear of offending China is driving freedom-loving institutes like Georgia Tech and institutions and scholars worldwide, including school faculty and administrators, from expressing outrage over the Chinese Communist Party’s unmitigated theft and blatant violation of our freedoms. We should all question why this is happening. Sadly, according to Pompeo, it is happening because “so many of our colleges are bought by Beijing.”

Since 2013, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that schools (Harvard is one) have taken an estimated $1.3 billion from China. He commented, “that’s just what we know about. Like so manylike Columbiaso many schools that have failed to report the true amounts.” 

Pompeo announced it is time for students, faculty, and administrations all across America to take action. Researchers must be vigilant against theft and fraud. Trustees must police their endowments and the agreements their universities are making with China and China-backed groups. He said that the U.S. government will help, but it needs assistance. The time to address this is now. He ended his talk by saying, “Let’s do this. Let’s carry forward a banner of freedom to defend our schools, what these institutions were built upon. It will aid our national security . . . and from the central threat of our time: the Chinese Communist Party.”