Georgia Tech Under Investigation for Alleged Chinese Military Affiliation

Georgia Tech is the subject of an investigation by the chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party due to the university's purported affiliation with a Chinese military institution.

Raising concerns about Georgia Tech's connection with Tianjin University, despite the latter's strong links to the Chinese military, Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) and two other GOP congressmen sent a letter to President Ángel Cabrera of Georgia Institute of Technology on May 9.

The letter states that while Georgia Tech is no longer allowed to export sensitive technology to Tianjin University because of the organization List's limitations, the university and at least one other PLA-linked organization have worked together to create sensitive technologies.

The MPs said that Tianjin University is governed by the Chinese regime's Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense and has close ties to the Chinese military. The integration of civilian firms and research institutions for military goals is part of the military-civil fusion strategy of the Chinese state. Defense laboratories are also housed there.

In 2015, a ten-year plan involving the theft of microelectronics designs from U.S. corporations and economic espionage on behalf of the Chinese state led federal prosecutors to prosecute three professors at Tianjin University and three Chinese nationals. Tianjin University and one of its laboratories were added to the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security's Entity List in 20o20.

The congressmen wrote about a recent technological advance—a graphene semiconductor with military uses developed by researchers at Georgia Tech and Tianjin University—in their letter. According to the letter, Tianjin University's lab created semiconductors in collaboration with the Chinese military.

Georgia Tech stated in January that its scientists at the Tianjin International Center for Nanoparticles and Nanosysms and in Atlanta had produced the first functional semiconductor in history using the nanomaterial graphene. The university predicted that this development would cause a “paradigm shift” in electronics and enable faster computing.

In the midst of a fierce geopolitical and technological competition, China and the United States both see semiconductors as a vital sector with applications in both the military and the civilian world, including quantum computing and cutting-edge weaponry.

Although the Georgia Tech Research Institute "does not have a collaboration, research partnerships, or provide any funding to Tianjin University," a Georgia Tech official said the university welcomed the congressional probe.

The MPs also questioned the Shenzhen municipal government's $250 million donation for the construction of the Georgia Tech Shenzhen Institute site in China.

The legislators then requested information from Georgia Tech on its financing, partnerships in research, and other relationships with Chinese organizations.

Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) of the Senate Armed Services Committee co-signed the letter.


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