A tsunami of Chinese cash is reportedly flooding American campuses, and the University of Pennsylvania appears to be an epicenter.
President Biden has brought the Ivy League school’s extensive China ties to the fore by nominating UPenn President Amy Gutmann to be his ambassador to Germany, one of the most important posts in U.S. diplomatic ranks.
Gutmann has led Penn since 2004. “[B]etween 2013 and last year, the university allegedly received tens of millions in undisclosed donations from China, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative-leaning public ethics group. And the dollar totals dramatically increased after the school opened its Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement,” Fox News reports.
“The NLPC filed a complaint against UPenn last year, alleging $22 million in ‘anonymous’ donations from the country for the Biden Center and $70 million from China in total,” Fox stated.
"The University of Pennsylvania has stonewalled all inquiries into the identities of the Chinese donors who made $22 million anonymous donations to the university," NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty told the network on July 3. "We think it’s time for her (Dr. Gutmann) to answer the question and identify the donors."
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement had a “soft” opening in March 2017. Its formation soon corresponded with a notable uptick in Chinese cash flowing to the university, Fox reports:
The complaint charges that in 2017, out of a total of $7.7 million in donations from China, $500,000 came from anonymous donors. After Biden launched his [presidential] campaign in 2018, the total jumped to $27.1 million, with anonymous donors giving $15.8 million. And in 2019, Chinese donors gave $26.9 million to the center, $6 million anonymously.The NLPC complaint provides more details on the Penn-China connection:
The University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Biden Center are particularly vulnerable to China government influences due to the large amounts of China donations and contracts. For example, at the height of the Chinese coverup of the [coronavirus] pandemic, Penn Global sponsored the 2020 Penn China Research Symposium on January 31, 2020, that included opening remarks by Ambassador Huang Ping, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in New York. At least one of the panelists at the symposium was from the Penn Biden Center. Moreover, the University of Pennsylvania since 2015 has established a Penn China Research and Engagement Fund where university funds are awarded for research projects about China.In 2015, Gutmann announced the creation of the Penn Wharton China Center. “Penn’s engagement in China via research, academic and student exchanges and broad partnerships with Chinese institutions benefits Penn’s campus and community and enhances global understanding and discovery,” she said at the time.
The university boasted of the intimate working relationship it was enhancing with the communist superpower:
The inaugural Penn [China Research and Engagement Fund] grants, totaling nearly $3.8 million during the first three years of the fund, support 16 projects involving researchers across Penn’s 12 schools and also six centers and institutes which are working in collaboration with 35 Chinese institutional partners, as well as more than 10 organizations worldwide.Penn was letting it be known that it was all-in on China:
The CREF awards represent another major milestone in Penn’s engagement in China following the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing in March. The Center provides logistical support for research, academic and student exchanges and for broad partnerships with China, as well as events and symposia on important academic topics for students, faculty and alumni.A "Three Years On” update of the Penn Wharton China Center on the Penn Today website extolled the overwhelming Chinese presence at the university made possible by the collaboration:
“Our physical presence in China has precipitated a transformation on the Philadelphia campus,” says Executive Director of Penn Global and Penn China Initiatives Amy Gadsden. “China-focused activities are underway in all 12 Penn schools, and for faculty in many disciplines, engagement with China is becoming critical to their research. With PWCC and CREF, Penn can stay at the forefront of China-based and China-focused research, ensuring that we become a leading institution in the study of the future of China.”"Academia is awash in Chinese cash," Flaherty told Fox News. "It’s time for administrators to start answering questions about it." Especially ones nominated to sensitive diplomatic positions.