Research: China

Home Office written question – answered at on 13 February 2024.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make an assessment with Cabinet colleagues of the potential impact of universities sharing academic research with Chinese investors on UK security.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

China poses an epoch-defining and systemic challenge under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) across almost every aspect of national life and government policy. We continually assess potential threats to UK security, and the Integrated Review and Integrated Review Refresh committed to strengthening the UK’s domestic resilience and international partnerships.

The Integrated Review Refresh 2023 also committed to launching a new and comprehensive review of legislative and other protections designed to protect our academic sector, to identify what more we could or should be doing, led by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). This review will conclude in the spring and will include an understanding of potential vulnerabilities relating to foreign access to academic research.

We have also introduced measures in recent years to protect our science and innovation base from state threats and misuse. This includes the establishment of the Research Collaboration Advice Team (RCAT) within DSIT, which supports the academic sector to recognise, manage and mitigate national security risks in international collaborations. RCAT has been positively received by the sector and is part of advice and guidance from Government helping to move research institutions beyond basic legal compliance to a more robust understanding of research security risks.

The National Security Act 2023 will make the UK an even harder target for states who seek to conduct hostile acts against the UK, steal our information for commercial advantage, or interfere in our society covertly. The Act creates a whole suite of measures designed to enable our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to deter, detect and disrupt the full range of modern-day state threats, including those related to academia.

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