Australian Computer Science Professor Revealed to Have Worked Closely With Chinese Military

August 7, 2019 Updated: August 7, 2019

Xue Jingling, a computer science and engineering professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, and his academic ties to China were recently in the spotlight after local media outlet The Australian revealed that he has published dozens of scientific papers with top Chinese military scientists.

The Epoch Times has uncovered more details about the nature of his research and collaboration with Chinese military officials.

Born in China and naturalized as an Australian citizen, Xue graduated from China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, earning a master’s degree in 1987. He then pursued a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom, graduating in 1992.

Xue joined the faculty of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 1999. 

Xue was hired as a professor at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in northern China in 2007 and has maintained academic ties since. In 2009, he was formally recruited via the Thousand Talents program, Beijing’s plan to poach top scientists and engineers—mostly Chinese nationals—from the West. 

NUDT is a university operated by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, the top agency in charge of China’s military. 

Notably, in 2015, U.S. authorities placed NUDT on an “entity list,” forbidding U.S. companies from doing business with it due to its use of U.S.-origin technology to develop nuclear weapons.

The Thousand Talents program has also been heavily scrutinized by the Trump administration recently for its role in transferring U.S. sensitive technology to China. Several prosecuted federal cases of intellectual property theft and economic espionage involve Chinese nationals who were recruited under that program.

Since its launch in 2008, Thousand Talents has recruited at least 6,000 experts from overseas. The plan grants each talent a research grant of up to 1 million yuan ($145,300).

In an emailed response, UNSW said that Xue has “never been funded by the NUDT nor by the Chinese government. He is funded by multiple Australian Research Council grants and by CSIRO (Australia’s national science agency).” 

Working at NUDT

Xue has been a NUDT professor since as early as 2007.

In a May 2007 school announcement of summer classes on high performance computing, Xue was listed as an instructor on parallel compilation technology, a kind of software programming.

In 2009, he was formally recruited by the Thousand Talents plan to work at NUDT. 

He assisted in NUDT’s efforts to recruit doctoral students, including those from Australia.

In a 2016 recruitment notice posted onto a Chinese university website by Xue’s student at the time, Rocky Sui, Xue is listed as seeking two to three doctoral students from China to join Xue’s research team at his Australian employer. The notice explained that the students would not need to pay tuition and would also get an additional annual scholarship of 27,000 to 37,000 AUD ($18,320 to $25,100). 

An UNSW spokeswoman confirmed via email to The Epoch Times that since 2008, eight out of Xue’s 40 PhD students at the Australian university were from NUDT. It is unclear whether Xue had PhD students from other Chinese universities.

And in a 2018 announcement posted onto the Chinese academic recruitment website Shidai Xuezhe, Xue is listed as seeking four to six active-service military doctoral students and four to five civilian doctoral students to team up with two other NUDT professors. 

In recent years, Xue also frequently delivered speeches at different Chinese universities.

Before he was due to give a speech at Wuhan University in 2016, he was introduced thusly: “His research has been supported by Intel, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Huawei, and the Australian Research Council.”

Xue is also a chief scientist at Zhongke Tianqi, a state-run company under the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The company states on its website: “In recent years, Xue has consistently designed software security analysis tools that have have been broadly used by Huawei, Oracle, and other firms.”

Chinese tech giant Huawei has been accused by the U.S. government of posing serious security concerns due to its close ties to the Chinese military.

Close Cooperation With Chinese Military Scientists

A search on Google Scholar reveals that Xue has published 265 scientific papers since 1990. Among them, 13 are co-authored with Yang Xuejun, a lieutenant general for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the formal name for the Chinese military.

UNSW confirmed that Xue has authored 36 papers with NUDT and 20 with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yang is a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, a body of roughly 200 Party elite. He is also dean of the PLA Academy of Military Science, the highest-level military research institute in China, and a former president of NUDT.

Yang was the general designer of China’s supercomputer Tianhe-1 and its upgraded version, Tianhe-1A. Tianhe-1A was the world’s fastest supercomputer from October 2010 to June 2011.

Xue also has co-authored at least 12 papers with Major General Liao Xiangke. Xue is listed by his UNSW professor title in three of those papers.

Liao is a member of the state-runChinese Academy of Engineering, dean of the computer department at NUDT, and another key expert behind China’s supercomputers Tianhe-1 and Tianhe-2, the world’s fastest supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2016. He also helped design the Kylin operating system, used by the Chinese military and government agencies.

Concerns

Experts have raised their concerns about the kind of close collaboration Xue has with Chinese military researchers.

“Professor Xue’s collaboration with NUDT included training at least nine PhD students from People’s Liberation Army…UNSW is one of the world’s top universities for collaboration with the Chinese military, and has probably trained dozens of scientists from the Chinese military,” said Alex Joske, an analyst at the think tank Australian Strategic Policy ­Institute, in an email to The Epoch Times.

Joske added that though Australian laws are in place to ban exports of sensitive technologies, Australian universities continue to co-develop technologies that could have potential ­military applications with ­Chinese scientists. 

Joske pointed out: “These activities may have advanced the Chinese military’s supercomputers, which are used to develop nuclear warheads and design combat aircraft.” 

UNSW said that Xue’s research projects have been cleared with Australia’s Department of Defense in late 2017 and deemed non-sensitive.

RECOMMENDED
TOP VIDEOS