University that housed Biden center pressed to end FBI China spy probe after big Beijing donations

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University of Pennsylvania, which hosted the Penn Biden Center where classified documents were found in November, received $47.7 million from China in the three years when Biden was affiliated with it.

The University of Pennsylvania, the Ivy League institution which collected tens of millions of dollars from China while paying Joe Biden and hosting his foreign policy think tank, successfully pressured the Biden Justice Department to end an FBI counterespionage program targeting Beijing’s increasing influence within U.S. academia.

Attorney General Merrick Garland shut down the FBI’s so-called China initiative in February 2022 shortly after more than 160 members of the University of Pennsylvania faculty signed and made public an open letter demanding the program be shuttered, on the grounds that it amounted to racial profiling. The faculty letter was part of a larger university battle against the program. 

“We acknowledge the importance to the United States of protecting both intellectual property and information that is essential to our national and economic security,” read the letter made public on Feb. 9. “We understand that concerns about Chinese government sanctioned activities including intellectual property theft and economic espionage are important to address.

“We believe, however, that the China Initiative has deviated significantly from its claimed mission: it is harming the United States’ research and technology competitiveness and it is fueling biases that, in turn, raise concerns about racial profiling.” 

A handful of left-leaning universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, had also previously appealed to the DOJ to close down the program. 

Two weeks after the letter was sent, Garland announced the termination of the program, sending shockwaves through federal law enforcement.

The DOJ’s own website still includes, to this day, a lengthy recitation of criminal cases the 4-year-old program had brought against members of academia who were working with China — either on espionage charges or failure to disclose foreign monies, as is required by law.

By John Solomon and Nick Givas

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