Pentagon Funding ‘Extremely Concerning’ Hypersonic Weapons Program at China-Linked University: Gallagher

Pentagon Funding ‘Extremely Concerning’ Hypersonic Weapons Program at China-Linked University: Gallagher
Cadet 2nd Class Eric Hembling uses a Ludwieg Tube to measure the pressures, temperatures, and flow field of various basic geometric and hypersonic research vehicles at Mach 6 in The United States Air Force Academy's Department of Aeronautics, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 31, 2019. (Joshua Armstrong/U.S. Air Force Academy via AP)
Andrew Thornebrooke

The Department of Defense (DOD) is funding hypersonic weapons research at a university with ties to China’s communist regime, according to two letters issued by the congressional committee tasked with overseeing the United States’ competition with China.

The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is concerned that DOD grants to Alfred University in New York may inadvertently fund weapons development in China due to the University's continued ties with CCP-affiliated institutions.

Such ties, according to copies of the letters obtained by The Epoch Times, include the university’s ongoing research partnership with a China-based university that performs defense research for the CCP, as well as the continued housing of a Confucius Institute on its New York campus.

“It is extremely concerning that $17 million in American taxpayer dollars has gone to fund advanced weapons-related research at a university that actively partners with a Chinese research institution working hand-in-hand with the Chinese military,” Gallagher told The Epoch Times in an email.

“It is not a secret that the CCP uses Confucius Institutes to project ‘soft power,’ but it’s time to shed light on how the CCP also uses these institutes to build Chinese ‘hard power’ weapons that could be used against Americans in a future conflict.”

The two nearly identical letters are addressed to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Alfred University President Mark Zupan. Each letter requests that the recipient address the Select Committee's concerns about research security, as well as the fact that the university will soon be legally required to obtain special permission to continue receiving DOD grants while it harbors a Confucius Institute.

“To put it plainly, you are funding advanced, hypersonic weapons-related research while actively partnering with a Chinese university that performs similar research for the [Chinese military], the letter to Zupan says.
“We seek additional information regarding this alarming matter and Alfred’s commitment to safeguard sensitive U.S. military research.”

'Supporting China’s Military Industrial Complex'

The letters outline how Alfred University was awarded $13.5 million in grants from the DOD to do research that would benefit hypersonic weapons, even though the university is currently partnering with the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, which is “actively engaged in defense research” for the CCP.

Moreover, the letters say, the research being conducted in Wuhan concerns advanced materials science that is closely related to the DOD-funded research currently being undertaken at Alfred University, possibly increasing the likelihood that an attempt will be made to transfer the benefits of the research from the United States to China.

The letters also question the legality of Alfred’s continued reception of DOD funding while it houses a Confucius Institute on campus.

Confucius Institutes are funded by the CCP’s propaganda wing and serve as a backdoor means of proliferating pro-communist sentiment on College campuses under the guise of cultural exchange.

The letters note that the Institutes are frequently “involved in supporting China’s military industrial complex” by establishing research agreements between U.S. Universities and ones in China that pass on their research to the CCP’s military wing.

Because of this, Section 1062 of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act orders that all universities that continue to host Confucius Institutes after October of this year will be banned from receiving money from the DOD unless they obtain a special waiver.

By the time of publication, neither the Pentagon nor Alfred University had responded to a request by The Epoch Times as to whether such a waiver has been obtained or applied for.

The issue of military technology theft is becoming an increasing point of tension between the United States and China. The CCP has launched a systematic campaign to send students and scientists to the United States in order to steal such technologies and research for the regime. Propaganda efforts like the Confucius Institutes and initiatives such as the Thousand Talents recruitment program are central to that effort.

Last year, for example, it was discovered that more than 150 scientists from the United States’ top nuclear laboratory had been hired by China to conduct research and development for the regime. Nearly 80 percent had been part of the CCP’s talent recruitment programs. Those researchers now contribute to the development of the CCP’s jet engines, warheads, unmanned vehicles, stealth submarines, and hypersonics program.

The Select Committee’s letters request a briefing by Austin on the matter, as well as copies of all the correspondence between the DOD and Alfred University, all communications related to the award, and a list of all the universities that have applied for waivers from the rule barring funding for Confucius schools.

“I look forward to hearing promptly from DoD and Alfred University on what they are doing to ensure American research security remains intact and that American taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fuel the CCP’s military advancement,” Gallagher said.

Andrew Thornebrooke is a national security correspondent for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.