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Texas Congressmen Warn Of Chinese Spies At State Universities

Ryan E. Poppe
Texas Public Radio

Intelligence experts echo concerns of Texas congressmen about the state’s universities hosting a group they say serves as an intelligence collective for the Chinese government.

Fred Burton, a former counterintelligence agent with the private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Chinese government set up the Confucius Institute to promote Chinese language and culture on college campuses. But, he said, the Institute might also have been used to spread China’s political agenda and steal academic research.

“Using academic cover is a tried and true method that the Chinese like to utilize as an effort to identify potential targets they could recruit for espionage on foreign soil,” Burton said.

In February, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the FBI was investigating the Confucius Institute.

In its letter to several universities, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, congressmen Michael McCaul and Henry Cuellar urged them to end their relationships with the Confucius Institute.

MORE | Read the from Congress to Texas universities

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.