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Imperial College ends research projects with China after spy alerts

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Dois centros de pesquisa da universidade serão fechados após a rejeição de dois pedidos de licença feitos junto ao órgão do governo britânico que regula parcerias internacionais

Two university research centers will be closed after the rejection of two license applications made with the British government body that regulates international partnerships| Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Imperial College, a British public university that is among the leading institutions of higher education in the The United Kingdom, will close two major research centers funded by Chinese aerospace and defense companies amid allegations that Beijing has been promoting spying on research projects in the European country – a warning made in July by MI5, one of the British intelligence services, and by the FBI.

According to information published by The Guardian over the weekend, a research center maintained in partnership with Avic, a Chinese state-owned company that is the main supplier of civil and military aviation in China, and another managed jointly with Biam, a subsidiary of another state-owned company in the aerospace and defense sector.

The British newspaper reported that the two centers will be closed by the end of the year after the rejection of two requests license agreements made with the British government’s Joint Export Control Unit (ECJU), which regulates the sharing of sensitive research with international partners.

In the last three years, another five British research projects in collaboration with companies Chinese facilities were closed, including facilities at Imperial College and in Manchester financed by Chinese missile maker Calt, whose parent company reportedly supplied drones used in the Xinjiang region, where Beijing is harassing Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

Charles Parton, China Specialist British defense and security think tank Royal United Services Institute, told the Guardian that the UK is starting to “wake up” to the threat posed by research partnerships with China. “The distinction between what is civil and military use is blurring. We must not help a hostile power”, he argued.

A spokesperson for Imperial College said that all research at Imperial College is “scrupulously” scrutinized and respects the university’s commitments “to the national security of the UK”.

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