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Secret China Donations to University of Delaware Soared After Founding of Biden Institute

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By Seamus Bruner and Jedd McFatter

Secret Chinese funds flowing to the University of Pennsylvania almost tripled after the Penn-Biden Center—which illegally housed classified documents—was inaugurated.  

Thanks to a Government Accountability Institute analysis, we can now exclusively reveal that a pattern is emerging: a second university received more than $6.7 million in secret Chinese donations, including direct funding from the Chinese government, after Joe Biden set up a program there in his name.

On March 13, 2017, less than seven weeks after concluding his second term as vice president Joe Biden announced the founding of the Biden Institute at his home state’s University of Delaware (UD). According to the announcement, part of Biden’s “vision for the institute is an annual conference at UD, similar to the World Economic Forum or the Aspen Institute.”

At the very moment of Biden’s announcement at UD, multiple members of the Biden family were receiving millions of dollars linked to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence. And Biden’s other university program at the University of Pennsylvania was apparently housing classified documents from the Obama-Biden administration in an improper way.

Prior to hosting the Biden Institute, UD had never disclosed any funding from China. One year later (and just two months after the Penn Biden center opened its D.C. office), anonymous donations from China to UD skyrocketed. The first payment came in April 2018 in the amount of $3,204,070 from an anonymous Chinese donor. In December 2018, another anonymous Chinese donation arrived for $1,869,515. A third anonymous China-linked payment (for $624,904) arrived in December 2019.

In 2020, the year that Biden was campaigning for president, anonymous Chinese state-linked entities sent three more payments totaling $1,005,761 to UD, the bulk of which arrived after Biden had been declared the president-elect. UD has not responded to our requests to identify the Chinese donors or explain why the Chinese government decided to fund UD after the Biden Institute was created.

Perhaps the most mysterious aspect of the Biden Institute is how it was conceived. The initial idea for Biden Institute at UD was apparently hatched by Joe’s son Hunter Biden, while the elder Biden was still the Vice President.

In March 2016, Hunter Biden met with UD’s incoming president, Dennis Assanis, as Hunter and his business associates were making plans to create a “stage” to promote the “Biden brand,” emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop show. Other emails on the laptop indicate that Hunter and his business associates were concerned about boosting Joe’s “future earnings potential,” while Joe was still the vice president.

One month after meeting with the incoming UD president, Hunter discussed plans for both the Biden Institute at UD and the Biden Center at UPenn with a talent agent named Craig Gering, his laptop correspondence shows. Gering’s “confidential notes” reveal plans for Hunter Biden to serve in some capacity at the Penn Biden Center, where classified documents were recently found to be stored illegally.

Gering noted that the Biden academic ventures could operate like the “Clinton Global Initiative without the money raise.” The Clinton Global Initiative, GAI previously reported, served as a way to enrich the Clinton family foundation by brokering access to Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The Clintons had to raise their own funds for their initiative, prompting the question of how the Biden programs would work “without the money raise.” Chinese government funding appears to be at least part of the answer.

Gering’s closing thoughts regarding the Biden academic ventures indicate they would be primarily about “wealth creation” for the Biden family. These ventures began as the Biden family was personally bagging some $31 million in deals linked to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence and as Hunter was paying for his father’s monthly bills—a potential crime while Joe Biden served as vice president of the United States.

UD has long held troves of Biden’s Senate records—more than 1,800 boxes of records—and has stymied public requests to view these records. In June 2022, a judge rebuked UD for its lack of transparency. It is unknown what documents, classified or otherwise, the Biden Institute at UD may have been housing from Biden’s vice presidency.

After the Penn Biden Center’s Chinese funding almost tripled, the university sent an open letter to the Justice Department calling for an end to investigations into Chinese espionage within American universities(UPenn alleged due to concerns over “racial profiling”). The Biden Justice Department acquiesced.

But there is reason to believe that Chinese espionage at universities warrants more investigation, not less, particularly at UD. In February 2022, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), sent a letter to UD President Dennis Assanis urging UD to terminate its academic and research partnership with China’s Xiamen University. Xiamen University actively supports Beijing’s military-industrial complex and allegedly conspired with Huawei to steal trade secrets from an American semiconductor startup.


UD appears to still be working closely with Xiamen University and its personnel. This week, the National Legal and Policy Center called for a special counsel to review Biden’s records at UD for any classified materials that may have been stored there illegally.

This is a developing story.