Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
September 10, 2020
For decades, America and its institutions of higher education have ignored the critical threat we face from Communist China.
The radical left has made its way into our universities and focused on combatting perceived injustices – renaming buildings, liberalizing curriculum, and promoting safe spaces over open, honest debate – while staying silent on their connections to Communist China, a country committing genocide against its Muslim population and actively oppressing the people of Hong Kong.
Now that a new semester is beginning and international students are returning to American universities, woke administrators and the universities they run will face a serious problem at the hand of General Secretary Xi.
Under Article 38 of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that it has global policing authority to prosecute anyone, anywhere, who might offend the delicate sensibilities of General Secretary Xi or even mention Beijing’s long list of human rights abuses.
In other words, if a Chinese student studying at an American university makes a comment in an online discussion that upsets General Secretary Xi, that student could be punished when they return home. In classrooms where Chinese politics are discussed, there is a fear that Xi’s surveillance state will also be present.
Schools like Princeton and Harvard are finding ways to protect Chinese students from potential prosecution by the CCP, such as the use of anonymous rosters and unnamed assignments, code words for topics sensitive to Xi, and even exemptions from classes where Chinese politics are discussed.
Their fears are not unwarranted. Beijing will use every means possible to silence its perceived enemies and maintain its desired reputation.
After years of turning a blind eye to Chinese spying for the sake of grant money from the CCP and full tuition from Chinese students, universities must face the fact that the CCP’s actions require a strong response from the United States – namely a decoupling between the U.S. and China in many areas of our national life: economics, finance, trade, and now education.
It’s time for universities, many of which pride themselves on their intellectual independence and autonomy, to do the right thing and reject the CCP’s tyranny.
Universities need to make clear that Xi must stop extending his reach into the U.S. or face admission bans and bans on student visas for Chinese students. And it’s not just universities that play a role. All of us must stand together and say that Communist China’s human rights abuses will not be tolerated.
Together, we can stand up and fight. No American institution should cower to the Chinese Communist Party and put our nation – and their students – at risk.