US/World

Ivy League University Unable to Explain Origin of Large Donation from Hong Kong Firm

The University of Pennsylvania received a $3 million donation from a Hong Kong company that appears to be a shell connected with a Chinese businessman with close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party reported the Washington Free Beacon.  

The donation was made in 2019 from an entity entitled the Nice Famous Corporation Limited.  That corporation is owned by Chinese national Xu Xeuqing, but University of Pennsylvania spokesman Stephen McCarthy said the donation came from a different Chinese national named Xin Zhou.  McCarthy identified Zhou’s firm as a large client of the Penn University business school, but no connection could be found between Zhou and the Nice Famous Corporation Limited.  

Xu Xeuqing has close ties to the CCP.  He is a chairman or vice-chairman of a number of organizations that have close relations with senior officials of the Chinese government.  He was involved in a bribery case in 2011 in which he allegedly provided a Cartier watch to an official in exchange for favorable government treatment of his firm.  Michael Sobolik, a China specialist at the American Foreign Policy Council, said that the fact that Xu was not prosecuted for his part in the bribery case hints at his close ties to the Chinese government.  “Businessmen with high-level CCP connections can play by a different set of rules, as long as they are connected to the right Party faction,” said Sobolik. “The fact that Xu escaped prosecution in Tao Xiaoxing’s trial, and especially his survival of Xi Jinping’s ‘anti-corruption campaign,’ suggest that Xu may have Party connections.”

The Nice Famous Corporation Limited’s address in Hong Kong actually houses a different business, the Double Rich Development Limited.  The Double Rich Development Ltd imports and exports ore and minerals and has no apparent connections to the Nice Famous Corporation.

Fox News reported that Xu Xeuqing seems to have no previous relationship with the University of Pennsylvania.  

China has donated large sums of money to American universities in recent years to try to buy influence according to experts.  “Unequivocally they’re using the money they’re providing the universities to garner influence there,” said Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. “It’s not the sole motive, but it’s one of a variety of motives.”  The ultimate source of the money may be the Chinese government. Freeman said, “Some of the contributions that we’re seeing ostensibly coming from Chinese businesses or Chinese charitable institutions, to some degree or another they are still connected to the Chinese government.”  Freeman also identified the goals of the Chinese Communist Party in American academia.  “I think that the most extreme concern about China is that they’re trying to garner influence on American campuses to gain access to our leading scholars and to gain access to what really at the end of the day is our intellectual property, our intellectual knowledge,” he said. “What’s looking much more common and what we’ve seen at a host of universities around the nation is that some of the Chinese funding is explicitly tied to changing the narrative about China.”

Intellectual property theft has created friction between the United States and China.  The Trump administration has been aggressive in combating China’s attempts to steal intellectual property from American firms.

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