Dozens of lawmakers are urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to launch an investigation into possible attempts by Chinese organizations to steal research and technology from U.S. universities.
In a letter to DeVos this week, 26 members of Congress call on her to require American universities working with Huawei Technologies to turn over information on their joint projects. Huawei is a Chinese organization that provides funding for research in communications, computer science, engineering and more.
The letter from both House and Senate members including Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), says Huawei’s partnerships with more than 50 U.S. universities "threatens national security."
It comes as multiple congressional panels in recent months have explored attempts by China and other nations to spy on and steal federally funded research on college campuses, a problem facing many research universities, which have to strike a balance between being open and collaborative institutions while also protecting the work they do.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has explored restrictions on Chinese visas, among other steps, in response to allegations of intellectual property theft.
A State Department official said at a hearing earlier this month that certain restrictions would take effect for some Chinese nationals seeking student visas. “We have issued some additional screening instructions to U.S. embassies and consulates to deal with certain individuals from China studying in certain sensitive fields,” Edward J. Ramotowski, deputy assistant secretary of State for visa services, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
The lawmakers want DeVos to probe whether any Huawei researchers "including Chinese nationals" are involved in the work at American universities.
They also ask her to meet with the FBI and the director of national intelligence about Huawei and call on her to "immediately convene" a "senior-level" working group at the department to better understand Chinese attempts to steal American research and develop recommendations for schools to prevent it.
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