Harvard Should Answer for Legitimizing the Chinese Communist Party

Distinguished Fellow
Harvard University. (Stock photo via Pexels)

The Hudson Institute, at which, in addition to my role at the ACLJ, I serve as a Distinguished Fellow, received a letter this week from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. The letter was written to “express concern” regarding a series of videos I have filmed, in which I speak directly to the Chinese people rather than their dishonest, genocidal ruling class. I filmed the videos as part of a larger effort to tell the Chinese people the truth about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Chinese Embassy’s reaction was not surprising – there is nothing the CCP fears more than their people knowing the truth about their own government’s tyranny.

The Embassy’s letter proved to be little more than another petulant attempt by the CCP to bully and silence American institutions. It is interesting, though, that the Embassy chose to cite evidence gathered from another American institution, Harvard University, to support its claims of legitimacy.

In the letter, the Embassy cites a study by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, published in 2018. This study indicates that as late as 2016, over 90% of Chinese respondents were satisfied with China’s central government, and that over the course of a decade, satisfaction with it had increased among the Chinese people. This is a favorite number of the CCP and its lackeys; unfortunately, it is entirely untrustworthy. Buried in a footnote, the authors of the study state that though the survey was designed by the Ash Center, it was in fact implemented by “a reputable domestic Chinese polling firm,” which, like unicorns, doesn’t exist. The Ash Center clearly did not think this firm was reputable enough to publish its name anywhere in the study or anywhere on the Ash Center’s website.

The polling firm in question was later revealed to be Horizon Research, a company founded by Yuan Yue, who was also Horizon’s chairman when the survey was conducted. Prior to his time polling the Chinese people at the behest of foreign entities (and with the blessing of the Chinese Communist Party), Yue served an official in the Chinese Ministry of Justice. Clearly, Horizon Research is a tool of the CCP and a completely biased source – and Harvard betrays its motto, Veritas, by allowing this study to bear its name. It compounds that betrayal by allowing the Chinese Communist Party to use it as cover for its brutal acts of genocide. Harvard should be ashamed.

Unfortunately, Harvard and the CCP have only become closer in the last decade.

Yao Ning, a local party secretary of the Communist party in Xinjiang (where the CCP is committing genocide and crimes against humanity), was recently honored this year by the CCP for his work – he studied at Harvard’s Ash Center from 2010-2011. Erken Tuniyaz, chairman of the Xinjiang region – essentially the region’s “ second-in-command ” behind its party Secretary – was a fellow at the Ash Center in 2012. The Ash Center lists Southern China Power Grid Corp. – a state-run entity – on its donor list.

The CCP’s ties with Harvard don’t stop with the Ash Center. Charles Lieber, the former Chair of Harvard’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was convicted for lying to federal authorities about his affiliation with the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Program and the Wuhan University of Technology. Harvard itself received over $90 million in gifts from Chinese entities between 2013-2020, more than any other college or university in America. This is how the CCP operates – it lures in American academics and institutions with promises of wealth and collaboration, then uses the prestige these people and institutions provide to support its anti-American agenda.

Harvard should break its ties to the Chinese Communist Party and denounce “research” done in its name that legitimizes the authoritarian regime of the CCP. The CCP will continue to use the Ash Center’s study as evidence that it is not actively oppressing the Chinese people and to distract from its genocide and crimes against humanity. Harvard should do the right and obvious thing in response: Correct the record by discrediting the Ash Center’s study and denounce the CCP for citing it.

Harvard and other institutions of higher education need to wake up to the threat China poses not just to America, but to peace and freedom around the world. Between 2004 and 2019, Beijing spent about $150 million seeding over 100 Confucius Institutes operating on American campuses. When the Trump Administration took office, we understood this threat. Higher education in America was an important area of focus for us; and today, there are only 18 of these CCP-backed institutes left. This wasn’t due to the pandemic or any other factors; we simply called attention to the threats to academic integrity and intellectual property that our universities faced if they did business with CCP-backed entities. The results are encouraging, but there is still much work to be done. China-based entities, including the Chinese government, secured $120 million in contracts with American colleges just last year. Harvard received over $6 million.

The CCP has infiltrated important institutions of higher learning, as well as other institutions. We learned in the past few weeks that 162 Chinese scientists who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a US weapons and nuclear research facility, returned to China to work for the CCP. It’s time for America to wake up.

Harvard has the capacity and prestige to be a leader on this vital issue. I hope it chooses this path – and ceases to legitimize a murderous, genocidal communist regime.

Read in ACLJ.