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Dissident warns China sending spies to U.S. in scholarly guise

(Reuters) - A prominent Chinese dissident who moved to the United States after being fired by Peking University last year warned on Thursday of the dangers of academic exchanges with China, saying Beijing sent spies as visiting scholars.

Xia Yeliang, an economics professor, was expelled from Peking University in October amid a broader crackdown on dissent, having drawn the ire of school officials for blog posts calling for democratic reforms and rule of law in China.

He took up a post at Washington's Cato Institute in February.

At his first public event at the think tank, Xia said that the fact so many high-ranking Chinese officials sent their children to study abroad showed a lack of trust in China's own education system and a desire to "borrow the good fame and name" from prestigious U.S. universities such as Harvard and Stanford.

"I just have the warning for all those top universities in the U.S.A.: you think you've got some benefits through cooperation with China, but who will win in the future? It's hard to tell. How can you say the Cold War has been ended; there's no enemy for the U.S. any more?"

Xia pointed to the build-up of China's navy, including acquisition of new aircraft carriers and asked: "I don't want to exaggerate the situation, but ... why do you want to build that - only for fun?"

He said U.S. colleges must not compromise fundamental values such as freedom of speech in pursuit of money from the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who come to study in the United States every year.

"American institutions are so lacking in money?" he asked, adding: "If Hitler is here and he tries to make some cooperation with Western universities and give them money, then you would like to accept that cooperation?

"Some people say you can't compare like that, but some aspects are quite similar," he said.

Xia said he was not advocating cutting off all educational exchanges, but urging caution - especially when it came to visiting Chinese academics.

"Every year among those top universities there are some visiting scholars, and among them I can definitely say there are some people who are actually spies," he said.

"They don't do any research - probably they just do some surveys for their boss."

Thomas Cushman, a sociology professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where 136 faculty members signed a letter to Peking University last year expressing concern about Xia's treatment, said U.S. universities were bringing in billions of dollars a year from an estimated 235,000 Chinese students in the country.

The Wellesley letter was prompted by the fact that the college signed an agreement on student and faculty exchanges with Peking University last June, and Cushman said it was vital that academic freedom was not compromised by such deals.

He expressed concern that the financial allure of such exchanges could lead to pulling of punches and self-censorship when it came to discussing topics deemed sensitive to China on U.S. campuses.

"There is a presence of Chinese politics in American universities now that wasn't there when I started off in academia, and we need to look at it carefully," he said.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Iselin007 February 28 2014 at 10:09 AM

They sure had help on breaking the moral of generations of Americans as US manufacturing tossed babyboomers and their descendants out into a jobless future.

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kvave February 28 2014 at 12:11 PM

Of course they are . The Chinese Communist mind doesnt play for the NOW . They Play for the End Game. At a Time when Putin is poised and testing a takeover of Europe ........ the Chinese are building to all time levels. There will also now be Backfire Bomber Bases in Central and South America ...............

Obama seeks to ban guns , and cut the military . Hmmm

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debra9084 February 28 2014 at 12:15 PM

What the dissident is saying is true. I live in the area of U.C.S.D in La Jolla, CA. I have lived in the area for over 15 years. I refer to where I live as the international area with people from all over the world because of U.C.S.D. being one of the top 20 most prestigious and academically superior universities in the world. On any given day while shopping, I will hear 15 different langues being spoken. The people lining up at the buses to go to the very expensive university are predominantly Asians. While we Americans are caught up in our pop culture tech devices, they are taking over. There are many Chinese spies in this area...some of whom I can tell by their body language when I say certain things they get "Uncomfortable" in their body language. Not only are there Chinese spies but there are Russian spies working at the most prestigious biotech firms in the area of La Jolla and U.C.S.D. The Chinese are on a mission here....yes they are. The real shame is the cost of college is so expensive here in the United States, we have set ourselves up for failure while the uber rich Chinese send their kids to the most prestigious universities such as U.C.S.D, which is a very prestigious university on the cutting edge of science, medicine, and computer technology. The same goes for the University of California in Irvine. It is the Chinese who can afford to send their children to the finest universities in our country, and I believe...really believe there are many spies among us...yes there are...and Russian spies, too....yes there are. We Americans need help to send our children to college. My daughter is extremely intelligent...a GATE student who is driven and ambitious at 13, but I don't know how I will pay for college. We must invest in our own American children.

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1 reply
goodbarnes debra9084 February 28 2014 at 12:22 PM

Our fathers and mothers of the Greatest Generation would not have tolerated this. Contemporary Americans are spoiled and very complacent now and the money hungry media is conditioning them to become divisive politically and especially socially. Those who are now so complacent will wake up when the tanks are in their own backyards.

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1 reply
sam54ct goodbarnes February 28 2014 at 1:19 PM

Wrong, Chinese students were in the USA prior to WWII, and remain here today.

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usci1 February 28 2014 at 12:42 PM

Just a few thoughts; Would a football coach (or any coach) allow a member of the the opposing college or pro team be present at play strategies meetings? No brainer answer. Since the USA (approx 350 million people) is in economic competion with a country of (alleged) over 2 billion people, why allow our academic and engineering knowledge wealth be taught to the competition? Europe is one thing, China obviously is a competitor. China, by culture, does not have the mind set nor ideology to be independantly creative. The USA is the only nation on this planet that has the ideological freedom to be creative. That is why we are so hated, admired, jealous of us, and they want to come here! We should charge them big $$$ to come here for our academic wealth and control the limits of what they can learn from us. But, that is too late to do now. Thank the powers that be in the USA who want to see the USA brought down to the level of "past failed" civilizations. China is in space and on the moon. The USA Mars (suicide) mission has already given socialist China the green light for the establishment of Moon bases. How smart is that in competition with a competitor? No brainer answer #2. Need I say more?

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1 reply
debra9084 usci1 February 28 2014 at 12:55 PM

They are charged major bucks at universities such as U.C.S.D., and a couple of years ago the tuition went up by 35%. It is the rich Chinese with their goverment ties who can afford such a high quality education, while our American kids cannot afford to pay an increase of 35%. The more the Chinese are willing to pay for top universites, the more the unversities jack up the tuition, making it impossible for our children from middle-class families to get a high-quality college education.
Back to the premise of the article: The Chinese spies are in our universities....yes they are. They are stealing our technology and everything they can grab.

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B February 28 2014 at 12:49 PM

And this has only occurred to the US universities NOW? Not only the "visiting scholars" but then there's the matter of the many Chinese students being courted by and flooding to US colleges... Too busy raking in all that lovely out-of-state tuition to consider larger implications.

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jojowhite320 February 28 2014 at 12:55 PM

You mean the United States of America are allowing chineese students they think are spies for china into our colleges.

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WatergirlHawaii February 28 2014 at 12:59 PM

This has been going on in American universities since early 80'; a tech transfer process perfected by certain professors/department heads who do business with Chinas intel branches in Chinas gov, university, commercial sectors. Working together, the prof/dept-head would "sponsor" Chinas most promissing "students" (some being Chinas top scientists), to work as "researchers", particularily in EE & EEE at that time, (and currently , in medical/cancer research, etc). Meanwhile the professor gets paid to both "oversee" the students, and travel freely back and forth to China for meetings & conferences, etc. that are funded by our university system, and also research project & grant monies.

Why would we not expect China to send both students and "spies" now that they have both a sponsoring & funding network; and a firm grip on english language translation (thanks to this same tech transfer process), and various communication technologies?

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Bill February 28 2014 at 1:01 PM


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usci1 February 28 2014 at 1:13 PM

Just a point in fact. The educated Chinese people consider POTUS Barak H. Obama a traitor to the people of the USA and they privately refer to him as a "monkey". (symbol of primitive behavior and understanding to the Chinese.) They have no sincere respect for him and see his mind set of bringing down the USA as to be a huge blow against England and it's history of colonization of people in foreign lands and economic interests of England in the USA today. The Chinese ask, Who does Barak Obama get his money from and opportunities to behave like he does, biting the hand that feeds him? This is the epitome of ingratitude in the Chinese mind. It can be said, that the race card as the psyche card has failed dismally in selecting a president for the USA. The WASPs thought by getting the current POTUS elected, that he would be a judas goat (aka oxymoron Frenemy) in keeping their economic interests. So much for that strategy. My generation said NO at Kent State to the ideologies being forced upon us by those politicians who hated (and still do) the existence of this nations Constitution and wants its existence eradicated.
Say false flag 9/11 2001 and Patriot Act. The lesson the USA is coming to teach the world is: You can kill the body, but not the soul/psyche of man. Say Job and Jesus. It is the soul of God loving people of the USA who will survive the upcoming extreme tribulations. America crucified only ensures it's triumphant resurrection. In GOD we trust.

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1 reply
sam54ct usci1 February 28 2014 at 1:18 PM

Nice rant, now cite your sources, otherwise you're just another liar.

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Torpecker February 28 2014 at 1:15 PM

Of course they are! They've been doing this for decades.

In the early 1980s, while working for AT&T International, I taught technical courses designed for several senior telecomm engineers from People's Republic of China. To them, "Technology Sharing" simply meant stealing any technologies they could get their hands on. As long as they smiled, they got away with quite a bit!

All too often we had to pry them away from critical "Company Confidential" materials they came across. They spent an inordinate amount of non-classroom time in the library, always looking for specific technologies. Patents and Copyright laws meant absolutely NOTHING to them.

Security officers at the training center reported that the visitors were up at all hours of the night making copies of anything they could get their hands on.

To be fair, I experienced the same sort of behavior when teaching a group engineers from the Republic of Korea `a year or so later.

Its simply the way international business is conducted by some folks . . . so why should they not rip off the Universities? They are usually easier targets than businesses, and their security is practically useless.

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