The University of Pennsylvania recently received $3 million from a company reportedly owned by a Chinese Communist Party-linked businessman, according to a report.
The Philadelphia school’s spokesman Stephen McCarthy told the Washington Free Beacon the cash came from a Chinese citizen named Xin Zhou, who McCarthy said was a “large client” of UPenn’s business school. But the paper said it actually came from Shanghai real estate developer Xu Xeuqing, who has no connection to the university.
The funds flowed through the Hong Kong-registered Nice Famous Corporation Limited company, which Xu reportedly owns.
The Beacon reports that UPenn has received $61 million “in gifts and contracts” from China from March 2017 through the end of 2019.
The Trump administration has taken recent action against Chinese influence at US universities, including barring graduate students with links to the Chinese military from studying in the US. The State Department says China has used students to steal technical information.
According to the Free Beacon, Xu faced corruption allegations in 2011. He allegedly bribed a Shanghai official with a Cartier watch. The recipient was sentenced to life in prison, but Xu wasn’t charged with a crime.
Michael Sobolik, a China expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, told the Free Beacon that Xu’s non-prosecution implies close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
“The fact that Xu escaped prosecution in Tao Xiaoxing’s trial, and especially his survival of Xi Jinping’s ‘anti-corruption campaign,’ suggests that Xu may have Party connections,” Sobolik said.
UPenn reportedly has seen a surge in Chinese donations in recent years.
The US and China are in an increasingly bitter clash, including over Chinese deception about early data on COVID-19 before it spread overseas, and in response to China eliminating political autonomy in Hong Kong. On Friday, Trump said he will ban the popular China-owned social media network TikTok.