Some of the largest and most competitive
in the United States have invested massive amounts in cash with a shady private equity firm linked to the
government’s genocide of
Muslims, records show.
Hillhouse Capital Group is a global private equity
headquartered in Singapore that has bankrolled at least two companies considered by the U.S. government to be tied to Beijing’s oppression of
in China’s Xinjiang region. Deep-pocketed American universities have steered somewhere in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars to this same controversial firm, raising red flags among national security experts.
“The problem with a lot of university systems is that a lot of their focus just isn’t geared toward national security,” Dustin Carmack, former chief of staff to Director of National Intelligence
, told the Washington Examiner, noting that large sums are flowing to China without proper vetting.
China’s government has committed “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs under the guise of derailing counterterrorism,
to an August 2022 United Nations report. More than 1 million Uyghurs have been imprisoned since 2017 and subjected to forced labor, forced sterilizations, and surveillance,
to the Council on Foreign Relations.
CHINA COMMITTED ‘SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS’ AGAINST UYGHURS, UN REPORT FINDS
The State Department
in 2021 that China’s treatment of Uyghurs constitutes “genocide.” In December of that year, the Treasury Department
the Chinese artificial intelligence company Yitu Limited, which Hillhouse Capital is a
shareholder of, as working with China’s government to “support the biometric surveillance and tracking” of Uyghurs and other minorities.
Hillhouse is also a shareholder of the Chinese solar company Longi, which Customs and Border Protection in 2022
from exporting products to the U.S. over its alleged ties to Xinjiang slave labor. CBP excluded Longi from a list of groups banned from selling in the U.S.,
Democratic lawmakers to raise concerns in July 2022, since the geopolitical risk consultancy Horizon Advisory concluded in a 2021 report that Longi’s supply chains are linked to forced labor.
“Essentially, if you’re a publicly traded or ‘private’ firm in China, you simply have to have a CCP member associated with the company,” said Carmack. “The state has rights to go and knock on your door, that’s just the way it is.”
In recent years,
university endowments over their investment portfolios that include holdings in companies associated with China’s government and its rampant human rights abuses. Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) introduced a
in July 2022 called the Protecting Endowments from our Adversaries Act, which would heavily tax China-linked investments by private colleges and universities.
Yale University is one institution that would be affected by Murphy’s bill. The school has considerable ties to Hillhouse’s Chinese billionaire CEO Zhang Lei, a former Yale student who used to work for the Yale Endowment. Lei was a board trustee between 2016 and 2021 and also sat on the board of Yale-NUS College, a
between Yale and the National University of Singapore.
Lei was also formerly on the board of governors for the China-United States Exchange Foundation, which has long been
for the Chinese Communist Party. CUSEF is chaired by Tung Chee Hwa, vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a CCP advisory board.
In 2005, Yale gave $20 million in seed money to Hillhouse, which Lei founded and is named after a street in New Haven, Connecticut. Five years later, Hillhouse
$8.9 million to Yale, in part, to “enable educational activities promoting exchanges between Yale and China.”
Yale disclosed on its 2020 tax forms that it paid over $45 million to Hillhouse. It also disclosed over $6.6 million in 2019, over $31 million in 2018, and over $4.5 million in 2017. David Swensen, the Yale Endowment’s late chief investment officer,
in 2020 that Hillhouse has earned the Ivy League school $2.4 billion in gains.
“Turning a blind eye to genocide to maximize profits is repulsive, and I believe it’s time to reevaluate the tax-exempt status of these university’s endowments,” Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Examiner.
Yale, which declined to comment to the Washington Examiner on its investment strategy, is hardly alone among American institutions in using Hillhouse.
Investors in Hillhouse have included Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Texas System, according to a
Wall Street Journal report. Stanford reportedly invested roughly $200 million with Hillhouse that year.
on 2019 tax forms that it had over $72 million invested with Hillhouse. Another institution that has invested with Hillhouse is the University of California, San Francisco, which disclosed having over $1.1 million
with the firm on 2019 tax forms.
“Stanford and Yale have spent decades indoctrinating American students with woke curriculum, but they are silent when it comes to real human rights abuses happening in China,” Gooden also said.
The University of Texas told the Washington Examiner that it has “indeed” invested with Hillhouse. However, the institution did not get into specifics.
Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Asia Studies Center, said universities need to stop investing with firms linked to China’s human rights abuses.
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“They have no problem picking out investments in Russia or, for example, investments in tobacco companies or in high-polluting industries,” he told the Washington Examiner. “The fact that China is using some of their surveillance technology to export authoritarianism throughout the world sadly doesn’t rank at the top of their main concerns.”
Stanford declined a request for comment, as did Princeton. MIT did not respond, nor did the University of Pennsylvania, or San Francisco.
Hillhouse declined the Washington Examiner’s requests for comment.