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The president of Purdue University has spoken out against the Chinese Communist Party monitoring students' behavior and attempting to intimidate them and their families back in China.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels sent a letter to students, staff, and faculty explaining that the administration had learned about a recent story revealing that China is attempting to intimidate Chinese students in America who are speaking out against the regime.
'We regret that we were unaware at the time of these events and had to learn of them from national sources,"
Daniels wrote. "That reflects the atmosphere of intimidation that we have discovered surrounds this specific sort of speech."
"Any such intimidation is unacceptable and unwelcome on our campus. Purdue has punished less personal, direct and threatening conduct. Anyone taking exception to the speech in question had their own right to express their disagreement, but not to engage in the actions of harassment which occurred here,"
Daniels continued. "If those students who issued the threats can be identified, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Likewise, any student found to have reported another student to any foreign entity for exercising their freedom of speech or belief will be subject to significant sanction."
In addition, Daniels said that "joining the Purdue community requires acceptance of its rules and values, and no value is more central to our institution or to higher education generally than the freedom of inquiry and expression."
"Those seeking to deny those rights to others, let alone to collude with foreign government sin repressing them, will need to pursue their education elsewhere,"
Earlier this month, ProPublica reported on the story of Zhihao Kong, a student at Purdue University who expressed dissident views about the regime publicly, prompting a backlash against his family back home. As ProPublica explained:
In a rush of adrenaline last year, the graduate student posted an open letter on a dissident website praising the heroism of the students killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
The blowback, he said, was fast and frightening. His parents called from China, crying. Officers of the Ministry of State Security, the feared civilian spy agency, had warned them about his activism in the United States.
"They told us to make you stop or we are all in trouble," his parents said.
Then other Chinese students at Purdue began hounding him, calling him a CIA agent and threatening to report him to the embassy and the MSS.
When this started, Kong had accepted an invitation to speak at an online commemoration for the Tiananmen massacre. He told ProPublica he was unsure whether he would ultimately participate, but joined in rehearsals on Zoom anyway. Kong told the outlet that within days of him participating that rehearsal, MSS officers went to his family's door again. His parents then begged him to stop speaking out against the regime or attending any rallies.
"I think that the Zoom rehearsals were known by the Chinese Communist Party,"
Kong told the outlet. "I think some of the Chinese students in my school are CCP members. I can tell they are not simply students. They could be spies or informants."
As ProPublica reported: "As the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping reaches across borders to control its citizens wherever they are, its assaults on academic freedom have intensified, according to U.S. national security officials, academics, dissidents and other experts. Chinese intelligence officers are monitoring campuses across the United States with online surveillance and an array of informants motivated by money, ambition, fear or authentic patriotism. A comment in class about Taiwan or a speech at a rally about Tibet can result in retaliation against students and their relatives back home."
Mike Orlando, who leads the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told the outlet that people who don't adhere to the Chinese Communist Party's line "risk being targeted for harassment."
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