WChinese President Xi Jinping has often made it clear that he imagines the world in the year 2049, the centenary of the People’s Republic. China, then, is the most powerful country in the world. This requires the strongest army, and since you cannot do it alone, the friendly support of European science. As early as 2007, Chinese scholars were sent around the world via the Thousand Talents Program in order to use the knowledge they gained there to accelerate their ascent. The military authorities acted as secret liaison officers and put their citizens into research projects that promised militarily profitable knowledge to China. German universities and institutes gratefully accepted this money, which, for once, they did not have to apply for themselves.
A consortium of 11 European media outlets on investigative networks Correctiv and Follow the Money has revealed the extent to which European science has been harnessed in China’s military rise. The research team examined 30,000 publications from 2000 to 2022 for links to the Chinese military. Across Europe, they found something in nearly three thousand cases. Germany offers 348 publications. 48 German universities cooperate or cooperate with Chinese institutions close to the military, some consciously take risks and refer to internal testing procedures; Others say they know nothing of his military background.
The result does not necessarily come as a surprise. It is the result of a policy that has long since applied (and continues to apply) standards to a country that has given itself completely different standards. The freedom of research guaranteed by the German constitution is being exploited by the Chinese regime that has constantly subordinated science to the military since the decision on military-civilian merger in 2017. From a European point of view, it is not always clear whether scientific knowledge can also be used militarily. However, in some cases, the documentation also shows an astonishingly naive or even careless handling of risks. The fact that critical cooperation also affects the National University of Defense Technology, which has particularly close ties to the People’s Liberation Army, should not happen. When military derivation is possible, future cooperation should be avoided. This point should not be excluded from the China strategy that the Federal Research Ministry is currently reviewing.
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