Scientists at 33 British universities, including Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh, have collaborated with the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics or its subsidiaries, which is on the US sanctions list for developing China’s nuclear arsenal.
It has been found that several British academics have published dozens of papers alongside scientists employed by a Chinese institution that is on a US sanctions list due to its research into developing Beijing’s nuclear arsenal.
Several also seemed to have worked for the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics at the same time as holding posts at British universities.
The joint UK-China projects show how taxpayers could in fact be funding research into China’s nuclear weapons programme through science funding grants and the use of Britain’s cutting-edge government-funded science facilities, including the UK’s national supercomputer, ARCHER, and a £260 million particle accelerator called Diamond Light Source.
The revelations have been described as a “national scandal” and prompted calls for urgent Government and university action to crack down on risky partnerships.
The Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, described the links as “extraordinary”, saying: “Some universities’ apparent lack of curiosity about their partners leaves them exposed to accusations of collusion with hostile states, violating human rights, and undermining the security of the UK.”
UK chair of Foreign Affairs Committee @TomTugendhat called the links “extraordinary”: “Some universities’ apparent lack of curiosity about their partners leaves them exposed to accusations of collusion with hostile states, violating human rights & undermining UK security”
— Juliet Samuel (@CitySamuel) March 1, 2021
“Clearly they need to realise their responsibility, but the Government also has an essential role in making sure they’re aware of the consequences arising from these partnerships.”
The British Security Services have repeatedly raised concerns over relationships between UK universities and China, while almost 200 British academics are understood to be under investigation for unwittingly helping the Chinese build weapons of mass destruction.