Australian Universities Refuse Millions of Chinese-Funded Research for National Interest

Due to the high risk with Beijing, several multi-million dollar research projects and collaborations have been rejected by the University of Adelaide.

To Its submission In a national survey of security risks affecting higher education last month, the university revealed that it rejected the project based on national interests or the university’s reputation.

“As Australia’s leading university in the field of defense and cybersecurity, the University of Adelaide takes responsibility for foreign interference seriously,” a spokesman told The Epoch Times. “The examples provided to the Parliamentary Commission help explain the quality of due diligence at the university and are a direct result of improved practices and oversight related to these issues.”

As an example, a $ 3 million ($ 2.3 million) project on advanced materials was rejected. This did not seem to pose a risk as suggested by an Australian company.

However, after further investigation, the university found that the project was funded by a Hong Kong-based company whose owner has a relationship with China.

The university also denied another project on computer security and network robustness research proposed by a multinational company headquartered in Shenzhen. It was rejected due to concerns over changes in federal foreign policy.

Refusals occurred at “financially significant” costs for the university and “endangered” staff employment contracts.

The decision to reject was the result of the university conducting due diligence on these proposals and finding risks of a serious nature that could not be “effectively mitigated or tolerated.”

Epoch Times Photo
On May 12, the Chinese flag was raised at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Canberra, Australia. (Sam Mooy / Getty Images)

The submission also revealed that it had rejected five proposed contracts with foreign universities since May 2020.

Some were rejected due to the proposed link to the partner university’s nuclear weapons research program and involvement in defense research.

He also said that some of the staff were seeking advice because they were asked to participate in the talent program.

“International involvement and cooperation enabled success, but the balance between international cooperation and the protection of the interests of sovereignty was so important at the same time that it rarely failed.” Said Peter Hosey, Vice President of the University of Adelaide, in the opening statement. Hearing (pdf).

“Universities recognize that international involvement is possible and that the environment in which it actually occurs has changed radically only recently,” he said. “In the past, universities were encouraged to engage globally, through co-publishing and the establishment of joint ventures with foreign universities, but that is no longer a simple desire.”

In contrast, the Innovative Research Universities (IRU), a coalition of seven universities across Australia, called for the actions needed to mitigate and manage risk while enabling continued prosperity through international research. It was.

“Risks relate to only a small part of these arrangements and need to be addressed proportionally without compromising the enormous national interests and interests of the remaining partnerships,” IRU submitted to a December survey. Said in (pdf).

In 2019, international research revenues totaled $ 843 million (US $ 370 million), an increase of 151% over a decade.

The United States was Australia’s leading collaborator, publishing 93,000 co-publishings between 2015 and 20. This was followed by China with 74,000 publications, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

“We must maintain a leading role in the international research system,” IRU said.

Southport Library Tourism Confucian Institute Gold Coast Australia
You will see a list of the Southport Library (Google Maps Street View) on the Gold Coast of Australia in September 2018 and the Tourism Confucius Institute on the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University on December 27, 2018. (Richard Szabo / The Epoch Times)

In its submission, IRU also recognized the risks associated with the Confucius Institute and the Thousand Talents Program.

Three of Australia’s 12 Confucius Institutes are located at IRU University, which claims to have “performed due diligence” before and during the partnership agreement.

IRU members also said they “manage risk” in the Thousand Talents Program through an internal process.

“So far, there is no evidence that staff have acted against the interests of the university or Australia by participating in the program,” said the members.

Members of the IRU consist of Charles Darwin University, Flinders University, Griffith University, James Cook University, La Trobe University, Murdoch University, and Western Sydney University.

In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in concerns about foreign interference that undermines national sovereignty at Australian universities.

In a speech to graduates of the University of Adelaide on Monday, former Defense Minister Christopher Pyne warned that the risk of a war with Beijing was increasing.

“Five years ago, I would have said that it was very unlikely, but now I have to say that it is more likely than it was then,” he said. Said..

“It’s not a cyber war, but it’s a real war with loss of life and destruction of military platforms, and attackers and defenders are on many sides,” said Pine.