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Report Reveals Beijing’s Sponsorship of High-Technology Research in Leading UK Universities

Civitas, a London based think tank, recently released a report titled, “Inadvertently Arming China?: The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research at UK universities.”

The report found that there is a ‘pervasive presence of Chinese military-linked conglomerates and universities in the sponsorship of high-technology research centres in many leading UK universities.’

The report, by Radomir Tylecote and Robert Clark, finds that at least 15 UK universities have productive research relationships with Chinese military-linked manufacturers and universities. The UK taxpayer sponsors much of the research at the university centres and laboratories through research councils, Innovate UK, and the Royal Society.

In many cases, these UK universities are unintentionally generating research that China’s military conglomerates sponsored and which may be of use to them, including those with activities in the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and also including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as well as hypersonic missiles and research in which China is involved in a new arms race and seeks ‘massively destabilizing’ weaponry.

This report analyses the relationships that at least 15 UK universities have established with 22 Chinese military-linked universities as well as weapons suppliers or other military-linked companies. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) deems many of these Chinese universities to be ‘Very High Risk.’

Sponsorship of high-technology research in UK universities covers areas such as:
▪ Metals and alloys;
▪ Aerospace physics and hypersonic technology;
▪ Ceramics, piezoelectrics and rare earths;
▪ Drones and radar;
▪ Shipbuilding;
▪ Data science, AI, and facial recognition; and
▪ Robotics (land, sea and space)

The report recommends the UK government should list all those Chinese military-linked companies and institutions that it wants to bar from sponsoring science research in UK universities and from research cooperation in general.

The authors also suggest the UK set up a new government organization similar to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose role would include monitoring and assessment of university sponsorship.

Source: Civitas, February, 2021

Inadvertently Arming China?