PRINCETON, N.J. — Will China soon own an institution of higher education on New Jersey soil?
The century-old, Princeton-based Westminster Choir College, a well-respected music school, may soon be the property of a Chinese government-owned company named “Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology,” formerly a steel company with no track record of running colleges. Alumni are furious. State Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space (R-24) are introducing a resolution (ACR-222) to raise awareness of the situation and push back against the purchase.
The college is operated by nearby Rider University. On June 21, 2018, Rider’s board of trustees announced a purchase and sale agreement with Kaiwen Education. Kaiwen Education was Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Company before 2018. In its past form, the government-owned Chinese defense contractor helped build ships, power plans, and ship blocks.
Wirths and Space are worried that China wants a foothold in Princeton to, as their press release states, “infiltrate the choir college for nefarious purposes, including the collection of United States intelligence and intellectual property theft.” Their concerns have grounding in China’s well-known history of stealing intellectual property from Western firms and governments; recently, experts believe the Chinese are actively attempting to steal technology to advance its naval aspirations.
“So besides having future leaders in domestic and foreign affairs in Princeton, Princeton is also home to world-class scientists and the world-famous Institute for Advanced Study. Albert Einstein made his home there after fleeing Nazi Germany,” Wirths continued.
“The question is, do we want a hostile communist dictatorship gaining footholds in strategic academic and scientific areas of our country,” added Wirths. “Absolutely not!”