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Latest news | MP Urges Prime Minister to Address National Security Threats Posed by University Research Projects

Latest news

MP Urges Prime Minister to Address National Security Threats Posed by University Research Projects

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Stewart McDonald MP has raised serious concerns regarding the lack of action taken against national security threats uncovered during the UK Government’s recent audit of university research projects.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, McDonald confronted the Prime Minister with the conclusions of the audit, which highlighted that hundreds of programmes at UK universities were at high risk of exploitation by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in strategic and sensitive areas of interest. Despite senior ministers being briefed on these findings late last year, no tangible action has been taken.

McDonald expressed his dismay at the Prime Minister's response, which he found lacking in acknowledgment of the severity of the situation. Instead of addressing the specific concerns raised, the Prime Minister referred to the UK’s purportedly "robust and proactive" stance towards China, a stance that has been called into question by the Intelligence and Security Committee's observations on Whitehall's readiness to counter China’s strategies.

Highlighting the critical role of higher education in the UK, McDonald emphasised that universities have increasingly relied on Chinese partnerships, with some institutions having ties to activities such as espionage, repression of the Uighurs, nuclear weapons research, hacking, and other sensitive areas. McDonald stressed that this situation is untenable and requires urgent attention.

In his letter, McDonald called upon the Prime Minister to confirm personal knowledge of the audit's findings, elucidate reasons for the lack of action, and initiate an urgent and coordinated response involving both central and devolved administrations responsible for universities across the UK.

Commenting, Stewart McDonald said:

“The Prime Minister must explain why the government has chosen to take no action on the findings of its own audit of Chinese state linked research projects at UK universities.

“The findings of the audit demand urgent attention and a coordinated response. We cannot afford to ignore the risks posed by university research projects susceptible to exploitation by the CCP.

“Inaction in the face of clear and present national security threats is not an option. It is imperative that the Prime Minister works across government, and with devolved governments, to take decisive action to safeguard our national security."

Read the letter to the Prime Minster here 

Watch Stewart McDonald's question to the Prime Minister here

 

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