Congress wants DeVos to investigate Chinese research partnerships on American campuses

Josh Rogin:

The White House and Congress are at odds over whether to save Chinese telecom giant ZTE, which has been accused of threatening U.S. national security. But that’s not the only Chinese company in lawmakers’ sights. Huawei, another Chinese “national champion” technology firm, is attracting scrutiny for its partnerships with American colleges and universities in areas of technology that the Chinese government is trying to dominate.

A bipartisan group of 26 lawmakers wrote Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday to highlight the national security implications of Huawei’s research partnerships and other relationships with several dozen American colleges and universities. They want Devos to investigate the Huawei Innovation Research Program and other programs through which Huawei partners with institutes of higher education across the country.

“We believe these partnerships may pose a significant threat to national security and this threat demands your attention and oversight,” states the letter, which was organized by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.). “Huawei is not a normal private sector company the way we have grown accustomed to thinking of the commercial economy in the West.”

Huawei’s program, according to its website, funds universities and institutes conducting research in communication technology, computer science, engineering and related fields. The lawmakers told DeVos that she should convene a task force to investigate these partnerships and be briefed on Huawei by top intelligence and law enforcement officials.