A Virginia public high school ranked among the best in America has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from entities linked to the Chinese state since 2014 as part of an ongoing fundraising campaign.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Thomas Jefferson Partnership Fund (TJPF) received donations of at least $250,000 from the nonprofit Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation in fiscal year 2015 and 2016 — and between $100,000 and $500,000 in fiscal year 2018, according to documents obtained by the conservative group Parents Defending Education and first reported by the Washington Examiner.
Sean Zhang, Ameson’s founder and executive vice chairman, has ties to Beijing’s so-called United Front Work Department, which the US said in 2018 works to “co-opt and neutralize” opposition to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
TJPF’s annual newsletter also crowed of a donation of at least $500,000 from the Chinese department store giant Shirble HK in fiscal year 2018. Shirble’s chairman, Yang Xiangbo, is also involved in the United Front, according to the Examiner.
The fund also took in at least $250,000 in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 from a premier Chinese institution of higher learning, Tsinghua University, to help found a high school in China based on Thomas Jefferson’s model of teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
According to the Pentagon, Tsinghua University has deep ties to China’s military. A Defense Department report from 2020 noted the Beijing university was home to laboratories affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army. Two years later, a separate report noted the Chinese Air Force had established a “Dual-Enrollment Program” with three universities, including Tsinghua.
“Americans deserve answers as to what information was gleaned by CCP-linked entities through Thomas Jefferson High School — and where else this might be taking place, as many other schools across the country currently receive foreign funding,” Parents Defending Education Executive Director Nicki Neily told The Post Tuesday.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune — and at the nation’s top high school, the implications of this are frightening, given the fact that TJ students regularly engage in mentorship programs with federal agencies,” she said.
The donations helped pay for faculty trips and student exchange visits between the US and China, as well as renovations on the Virginia school’s campus and its first-rate labs.
US News and World Report rated Thomas Jefferson as the No.1 high school in America for 2022, lauding the Alexandria school’s course offerings like “DNA science, advanced marine biology, automation and robotics, architectural drawing and design, research statistics and AP calculus.”
A spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.