FBI encourages US universities to monitor Chinese students, report says

‘It’s not a question of just looking for suspicious behaviour — it’s actually...targeting specific countries’

US flags fly outside the FBI headquarters in Washington DC
US flags fly outside the FBI headquarters in Washington DC

The FBI has reportedly urged at least 10 US universities to actively monitor Chinese students and visiting scholars.

The institutions, all members of the Association of American Universities, have been asked to closely monitor any students or fellows linked to several Chinese companies and research organisations, according to NPR.

“We are being asked what processes are in place to know what labs they are working at or what information they are being exposed to,” said Fred Cate, vice president of research at Indiana University.

”It’s not a question of just looking for suspicious behaviour — it’s actually really targeting specific countries and the people from those countries.”

During visits to campuses, FBI agents discussed concerns with university officials about students from other nationalities as well, but focused on those from China.

US intelligence employees separately briefed 70 university administrators in March 2019.

The group were urged to increase oversight of Chinese researchers and to avoid accepting project funding from firms such as Huawei.

Huawei, a Chinese technology company, is included on the US government’s list of companies which undermine the country’s national security.

The CIA reportedly suspects the company of taking funding from Beijing’s intelligence and security agencies.

US companies were effectively banned from selling to the firm between May and June 2019, but Donald Trump said the ban would be lifted during the G20 summit on Saturday.

The US and China also agreed to halt a yearlong trade war during the summit.

“For months up until [May], government officials were saying, ‘We really don’t think you should be doing business with Huawei,’” Mr Cate told NPR.

“We said, ‘Why don’t you put them on a list and then we won’t do business?’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, the list process is way too slow.’ “

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

“The FBI regularly engages with the communities we serve,” a spokesperson for the agency said.

“As part of this continual outreach, we meet with a wide variety of groups, organisations, businesses, and academic institutions.

“The FBI has met with top officials from academia as part of our ongoing engagement on national security matters.”

Intelligence agencies have also urged university administrators to review research involving possible defence applications, if the projects involve Chinese nationals.

The FBI requests are not mandatory and several administrators are believed to have resisted the pressure to monitor Chinese students, due to being sceptical about the threat level.

Chinese nationals make up a third of all international students in the US and many pay significant sums to study in the country.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in