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House Committee on China to Probe Harvard’s Handling of Anti-CCP Protest at HKS

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party announced it will probe Harvard's handling of a pro-Tibet protest in a letter sent to interim University President Alan Garber.
The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party announced it will probe Harvard's handling of a pro-Tibet protest in a letter sent to interim University President Alan Garber. By Julian J. Giordano
By Dhruv T. Patel and Samantha D. Wu, Crimson Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party launched a probe on Monday into Harvard's handling of an anti-CCP protest during a speech by Chinese Ambassador to the United States Xie Feng at the Harvard Kennedy School in April.

Chairman John R. Moolenaar (R-Mich.) wrote in a four-page letter to interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 that the protest — which resulted in the forcible removal of several protesters — raised concerns over whether Harvard is doing enough to “ensure students’ safety for freedom of expression.”

“This incident raises serious questions regarding possible transnational repression by the Chinese government and the involvement of international students from China at Harvard in acts of harassment and intimidation condoned by the Chinese government against its critics,” Moolenaar wrote.

He added that Harvard should be expected to “push back against any foreign government efforts to silence their critics on campus.”

A University spokesperson confirmed Garber had received the letter, but declined to comment.

The April event with Xie was organized by the Kennedy School’s Greater China Society as part of its two-day Greater China Conference. As Xie delivered opening remarks, six protesters affiliated with Students for a Free Tibet and Coalition of Students Resisting the CCP interrupted him by shouting and holding Tibetan flags and banners that criticized China.

While three of the protesters were escorted from the event by Harvard University Police Department officers, Cosette T. Wu ’25, the first person to interrupt the event, was dragged out by an individual she later identified as a Harvard student who had co-organized Feng’s visit.

In his letter, Moolenaar demanded Garber provide additional information about the individual who dragged Wu out of the event, saying the incident “elicited an uproar in the Chinese community in the United States.”

Moolenaar, who graduated from HKS with a master’s in public administration, alleged that the incident could “constitute assault and battery under Massachusetts law” and inquired whether Harvard had taken action against the individual or notified local law enforcement of the incident.

Moolenaar also wrote that the incident is part of a trend “involving some students from China infringing on their fellow students’ freedom of expression,” citing a Berklee College of Music student who was sentenced last month for harassing a fellow Chinese student for their pro-democracy activism on campus.

The letter took particular aim at Harvard’s handling of the incident, asking the University to turn over information about its involvement with the event in the form of security or faculty liaisons, and disclose what action the University has taken against the protesters, four of whom were current or former Harvard students.

Harvard is also expected to describe how it regulates “foreign government-backed student organizations” and whether it has used any federal funding to support such organizations.

In particular, Harvard will have to explain its oversight of the Greater China Society and the China Society, a separate organization at HKS that last posted on its Facebook page in 2014. Moolenaar also asked the University to answer whether the Greater China Society coordinates “its activities with the Chinese government or the Chinese diplomatic missions.”

The letter from the Select Committee on China alleged that before ceasing operations, the China Society group was affiliated with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, an organization that has been criticized for its ties to the CCP and its efforts to censor anti-China dialogue on university campuses in the U.S. The committee noted that the Greater China Society shares the same logo as its older CSSA counterpart and asked Harvard to describe any ties between the two organizations.

The Select Committee on China joins a large number of congressional committees that are currently investigating the University. In February, three members of Harvard’s top leadership, including Garber, were subpoenaed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for their handling of campus antisemitism.

Moolenaar asked Harvard to respond to the committee by July 26.

Corrections: July 2, 2024

A previous version of this article incorrectly describe the disruption of Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng’s speech as a pro-Tibet protest. In fact, the protest was more broadly an anti-CCP action.

A previous version of this identified a group that participated in the protest as the Coalition of Students Resisting China. In fact, the group is called the Coalition of Students Resisting the CCP.

—Staff writer Dhruv T. Patel reported from Chicago. He can be reached at Follow him on X @dhruvtkpatel.

—Staff writer Samantha D. Wu reported from Washington. She can be reached at

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