Campus Reform | A Stanford researcher was recently indicted for China ties. As new China center opens, has Stanford learned its lesson?

A Stanford researcher was recently indicted for China ties. As new China center opens, has Stanford learned its lesson?

Stanford University launched a center associated with a Chinese university known for close links to the Chinese Communist Party.

The announcement of the center’s opening came around the same time as one of its former researchers was indicted for ties to China.

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Around the same time as one of its former researchers was indicted for ties to China, Stanford University launched a center with ties to a Chinese university submissive to the Chinese Communist Party.

The Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions, which launched in February, will seek to “foster path-breaking research, create transformative student experiences, and advance public understanding of China’s economy and its impact on the world.” 

The initiative will likewise “serve as a hub for Stanford students interested in China, providing curricular and experiential opportunities that deepen their understanding of issues, opportunities, and possible solutions to the challenges of China’s economic development.”

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The center is part of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, which works alongside Peking University. In particular, Scott Rozelle — a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute — will serve as a co-director for the new center.

A recent report from Scholars at Risk reveals that the Chinese Communist Party closely monitors Peking University. Professors must submit presentations and lecture plans to Party officials for approval. In some instances, officials have detained, arrested, and “disappeared” students for disagreements with the Chinese government.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute similarly called Peking University “high risk for its involvement in defence research and links to China’s nuclear weapons program.”

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Campus Reform has reported that the Chinese government’s involvement on American campuses encroaches upon academic freedom and jeopardizes research security. Stanford’s opening of the center occurs in spite of heightened federal concern over the spread of Chinese influence in academia.

Last year, Stanford University itself experienced a potential security breach due to Chinese espionage. 

[RELATED: Stanford researcher was 'secretly a member of China's military,' prosecutors allege]

Former researcher Chen Song was indicted by a federal jury last month — approximately the same time as the launch of Stanford’s new center — for failing to disclose her ties to the People’s Liberation Army in China. 

Among other offenses, Song attempted to mail classified information to the Chinese military. 

Campus Reform reached out to Stanford University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.