Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: DFI Investigates DOJ’s Decision to End “China Initiative”

WASHINGTON—As the Biden Administration weakens enforcement of Federal programs meant to keep in check the Chinese Communists Party’s influence in American education programs, the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) is demanding to know who pushing for these decisions behind the scenes.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced just this week that it is ending the “China Initiative,” a program calculated to counter national security threats posed to the United States by the People’s Republic of China and its proxies. This comes on the heels of the Education Department’s weakened enforcement of the rules requiring American higher education institutions to publicly report certain foreign gifts and contracts—the subject of a separate DFI investigation. The previous administration took bold action to enforce this rule, known as Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, and uncovered $6.5 billion in undisclosed foreign gifts and contracts to U.S. higher education institutions between 2010 and 2020. 

“The timing on these decisions couldn’t be worse given the growing and pervasive military and economic threats posed to the U.S and its allies by China, not to mention the current world tensions regarding Ukraine and Taiwan,” said DFI President Robert S. Eitel.  “It seems DOJ has chosen to abandon American security at the urging of self-interested parties, including the PRC and the universities that failed to report billions of dollars in foreign contributions.”

The DOJ claimed in its announcement, without substantiation, that reports of “anti-Asian bias” justified its decision to disband the “China Initiative.”  In fact, as a result of the “China Initiative,” DOJ recently obtained the conviction of Charles Lieber, a former Harvard chemistry chair who was found guilty of lying about his financial ties to the Chinese government,  including a university in Wuhan. Dr. Lieber is not Asian.

As noted in DFI’s Freedom of Information Act Request for documents pertaining to DOJ’s decision to terminate the “China Initiative” in the wake of Dr. Lieber’s conviction, “DOJ’s announcement bore surprising resemblance to comments by the CCP’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who, in May 2021, said China was ‘furious’ and condemned U.S. treatment of ‘Asian Americans, including against the Chinese,’ alleging that discrimination against minorities had been on the rise in the U.S.” 

“That’s ironic coming from a totalitarian government that has crushed democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong, arbitrarily detains millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, conducts mass surveillance on its own people, and suppresses on a daily basis the religious freedom, speech, and movement of its citizens,” noted Eitel.

DFI’s mission includes promoting government transparency and accountability and believes strongly that the American people have a right to know why DOJ made the decision to end the “China Initiative” and to learn the names of the people and organizations who influenced that decision. 

To view a list of the records and documents DFI has demanded from the Department of Justice related to this matter, click here.