America won! Thanks to Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space, the Chinese Communists will not be buying a college in Princeton.
Alerted by businessman-philanthropist Mike Hennessy, the Assemblymen got to work generating grassroots opposition to the all but done sale of Westminster Choir College to a Chinese company controlled by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the Communist Party of China (CPC). Westminster is a division of the Westminster College of the Arts, and is part of Rider University.
Last June, Rider University had signed a purchase and sale agreement with a newly created entity called Kaiwen Education, which is controlled by the Chinese navy and its Communist Party masters. Assemblymen Wirths and Space were concerned that the sale could give the Chinese government a foothold on the Princeton campus, with all its sensitive research and technology facilities.
Rider had provoked the ire of Hennessy and others, when it banned Chick-Fil-A from opening on campus, despite a majority vote by students asking for a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on campus. It seems Rider’s administration thought that Chick-Fil-A’s ownership was too Christian and therefore “controversial”. Apparently Kaiwen, the PLA Navy, and the CPC were just the right amount of communist.
Along with other Rider benefactors, Hennessy organized a grassroots effort to stop the sale, while there were protests by students and faculty, as well as legal challenges. Federal authorities were contacted and had become interested in the matter. Under this pressure and the pressure from legislators like Wirths and Space, the state attorney general's office delayed the pending sale in March, asking Rider for more information about the deal.
Westminster Choir College is the world’s foremost college of religious music. A residential college located on a 23-acre campus in the heart of Princeton, it is a four-year music college and graduate school that “prepares men and women for careers as performers and as music leaders in schools, universities, churches and professional and community organizations.”
Rider University announced on Monday that the two sides had mutually agreed to not extend the agreement. This essentially cancelled the sale, although the money-hungry Rider administration still publicly held out hope for an “alternative relationship” with the Chinese Communists.
Assemblymen Wirths and Space, who introduced a resolution (ACR-222) in opposition to the sale, called the announcement a big win.
"It took many vocal opponents, but our efforts paid off. Rider University made the right decision to stop the sale," Wirths said. "From the very beginning, the company's interest in the music college for the purpose of academia seemed suspicious."
Kaiwen Education has no experience in higher education. It was a made-up subsidiary of a government-owned Chinese defense contractor.
"Today's announcement is a big win against the authoritarian Chinese government who we feared might be using the guise of academia to access Princeton's world-class scientists, researchers and institutions for nefarious purposes," Space said.
State Senator Steve Oroho introduced the Senate version of the resolution, SCR-160. Surprisingly, no Democrats and few Republicans saw it as a battle worth fighting, let alone one that they could win.
“Standing up to one of the world’s most repressive regimes – on the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square – wasn’t considered important enough to most of the Legislature,” one grassroots campaigner said. “While millions of people in Hong Kong are protesting this oppressive regime, the Democrats who run the Legislature were more than happy to turn a campus in Princeton over to them.”
Another noted: “Guess it lacked a connection to LGBTQ… that’s all that matters these days.”
This could have been a real moment of unity in Trenton for Republicans and all but the most craven Democrats. Instead, the Democrats tried to block legislative action in opposition to the sale, while most Republicans didn’t have the good sense to take a stand. Thankfully, guys like Hal Wirths and Parker Space did, but where the hell is everybody else’s political radar these days???
No wonder so many members of the Republican base share sentiments like these…