Pompeo: China is ‘recruiting’ exchange students as spies

Ahead of the two Senate runoff elections in the state, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday slammed China for stealing research and intellectual property from Chinese students studying in American colleges.

During a speech at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, Pompeo termed China’s Communist Party as the “central threat of our time”, while highlighting efforts by Chinese security services to pressure and recruit Chinese academics and students as spies, reported The Hill.

The Secretary of State further alleged that China was targeting Chinese students studying in the U.S., threatening them over perceived criticism of the communist nation, and pressuring or threatening their families in China in exchange for information on democratic activists and dissidents, The Hill reported.

“Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends and how those actions degrade our freedoms and American national security… If we don’t educate ourselves, if we’re not honest about what’s taking place, we’ll get schooled by Beijing,” he said.

Attacking ‘left-leaning’ institutions as the prime targets of the CCP, he also called for greater protections for Chinese students on college campuses, speaking out against Beijing, and maintaining vigilance against efforts of theft of academic and research materials.

Pompeo’s remarks come after US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday chided China for not complying with the international trade rules and called Beijing a principal military and economic threat in the Asian region.

“China continues to be both the largest potential market and the principal military and economic threat in the region,” Ross said.

China and the U.S. are at loggerheads since President Donald Trump took office over many issues including trade, Indo-Pacific, coronavirus and treatment of Uyghur Muslims. The tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent times.

Earlier this month, Pompeo, announced sanctions against 14 vice-chairpersons of the National People’s Congress over the controversial national security law imposed on Hong Kong, and also designated China in its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC) for violations of religious freedom.

Prior to that, John Ratcliffe, U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in an opinion piece on The Wall Street Journal, wrote: “If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”