House Committee Probes Harvard After Student Anti-CCP Protesters Were Removed From Event

A House select committee focused on China is demanding answers from Harvard University over an incident on campus in April, when students protesting a speech by China’s ambassador to the United States were removed against their will.

In a letter to interim Harvard University President Alan Garber on July 1, Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said that the April incident could be another example of the CCP’s efforts to silence its critics outside of its borders.

“This incident raises serious questions regarding possible transnational repression by the Chinese government and the involvement of international students from China at Harvard in acts of harassment and intimidation condoned by the Chinese government against its critics,” the letter reads.

The letter asks Harvard University to answer 13 questions, including whether the Ivy League school had partnered with “representatives of the Chinese government” on security at the event, whether Harvard had reached out to the student protesters and launched any disciplinary investigation, and whether it monitors foreign-government-backed student organizations.

“Universities should be bastions of freedom, and prestigious institutions like Harvard should hold themselves to an even higher standard to ensure a safe environment for students’ freedom of expression and push back against any foreign government effort to silence their critics on campus,” the letter reads.

Mr. Moolenaar asked Harvard University to respond to the questions by July 26 and provide the committee with a briefing about the incident.

Harvard University didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.


On April 20, Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng delivered a speech for Harvard Kennedy School’s China Conference, an event organized by the school’s Greater China Society. During his address, Mr. Xie was interrupted by six Harvard students and youth activists, including Taiwanese American undergraduate student Cosette Wu, co-director of the university’s Coalition of Students Resisting the CCP.

The letter referenced video footage showing Ms. Wu shouting slogans in protest of the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses. She was subsequently dragged out of the event by an individual in a dark suit. According to the letter, Ms. Wu identified the individual as a Harvard student from China.

Another Harvard student, Tsering Yangchen, was also removed, the letter said. She is the co-president of the Boston chapter of Students for a Free Tibet.

The letter noted that Ms. Yangchen said she was approached by a student from China, who asked her for names of protesters, followed her, and caused her to “feel scared.” She said the Chinese student “appeared to be one of the event organizers.”

In a statement issued in April, Ms. Yangchen said: “My family escaped Tibet because China had massacred tens of thousands of Tibetans during the CCP’s military invasion and colonization of my homeland.

“Today, in occupied Tibet, China is continuing the genocide of Tibet by ripping 80 percent of all Tibetan schoolchildren from their families and forcing them to attend colonial boarding schools where speaking Tibetan is forbidden. Xie Feng is an advocate for the genocide of my people, and as a Tibetan Harvard student, it’s my duty to show the world the truth.”

Transnational Repression

Mr. Moolenaar also referenced a recent case involving the conviction of a former Chinese student from Berklee College of Music in Boston for “threatening and harassing a fellow Chinese student for posting pro-democracy fliers on campus.” The former Chinese student was sentenced to nine months in prison in April.

Also mentioned in the letter was a recent report from rights group Amnesty International, which found that the CCP has created a “climate of fear” in an attempt to keep Chinese international students from engaging in topics considered taboo by Beijing.

“As the number of students from China skyrocketed in U.S. universities since 2009, so have efforts by the Chinese government to monitor, control, and manipulate them,” the letter reads. “The Chinese government often uses student organizations like Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) that are organized and collectively overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.

“Members of CSSAs have reportedly engaged in harassment and intimidation of Chinese students who are openly critical of the Chinese government.”

In November 2023, the committee issued a memo urging Americans to be aware of the CCP’s influence operations, known as “united front work.”

“United front work damages U.S. interests through legal and illegal technology transfer, surveillance of Chinese diaspora communities, promotion of favorable narratives about the PRC through ostensibly independent voices, and the neutralization or harassment of critics of the CCP,” the memo reads, using the abbreviation of China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.


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