Imperial College to close two research ventures with China

Imperial College London in the United Kingdom will shut down two major research centres sponsored by Chinese aerospace and defence companies amid a crackdown on academic collaborations with China, writes Hannah Devlin for The Guardian.

The AVIC Centre for Structural Design and Manufacture is a long-running partnership with China’s leading civilian and military aviation supplier, which has provided more than £6 million (US$7 million) to research cutting-edge aerospace materials. The second centre is run jointly with BIAM, a subsidiary of another state-owned aerospace and defence company, which has contributed £4.5 million for projects on high-performance batteries, jet engine components and impact-resistant aircraft windshields. The centres’ stated goals are to advance civilian aerospace technologies, but critics have repeatedly warned that the research could also advance China’s military ambitions.

Now Imperial College has confirmed the two centres will be shut by the end of the year after the rejection of two licence applications to the government’s Export Control Joint Unit, which oversees the sharing of sensitive research with international partners. The closures follow a warning in July by the heads of MI5 and the FBI of the espionage threat posed by China to UK universities, and highlight the government’s hardening attitude on the issue.
Full report on The Guardian site