Silicon Valley veteran Keith Krach recently published an open letter call for university’s to divest from Chinese companies involved in China’s genocide against its Uyghur population.
Krach — who served as the State Department’s Under Secretary for Economics during Trump’s presidency and now serves as the chairman of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University — published his open-letter with Inside Higher ED on Sept. 9, calling on university governing board members to divest in any companies involved in China’s mass internment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.
Krach reiterated this call to divest from Chinese-linked firms in an interview last week with Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Nury A. Turkel.
“These universities are trusted institutions and so to have any of this forced labor in the things that they procure, but also their endowment funds . . . they really don’t realize, I didn’t realize all the Chinese stocks in there and many of those are perpetuating the surveillance state that enable genocide,” Krach told Turkel. “Also they’re military companies. So in essence what we did is we called for that divestment movement.
Human rights organizations have estimated China is keeping about 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups in internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China. China refers to these internment camps as “re-education” centers.
In addition to imprisoning them, Uyghur activists and U.S. officials have accused China of using the Uyghur population for forced labor and committing genocide with “coercive population control measures” like forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families.
In his op-ed open letter, Krach noted a broader request he made while still serving in the State Department for leaders across civil society to divest from China.
“Since that time, the U.S. government has officially declared the Chinese government’s abuses in Xinjiang genocide, determining in January 2021 that China’s governing authorities ‘are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group,'” Krach wrote. “Around the world, the CCP’s atrocities against the Uyghurs have been recognized as genocide by lawmakers in the Czech Republic, France, the United Kingdom and a growing number of other countries.”
Krach also credited student activists for already pressuring their university’s to divest from companies involved in China’s Uyghur internment practices.
“The bipartisan Athenai Institute, a student-founded nonprofit, has responded to this call for divestment from malign Chinese companies by organizing a grassroots movement that is rapidly spreading across college campuses nationwide,” Krach said.
Krach added that students from Cornell, Georgetown and George Washington Universities and the University of Virginia and the University of California, Los Angeles, have also raised calls for their universities to divest from companies linked to China’s Uyghur abuses.
“Last year, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., began an audit of its endowment holdings for any companies complicit in human rights abuses against Uyghurs after the student government unanimously passed a resolution calling on the university to divest its financial holdings connected to the genocide in Xinjiang,” Krach added.