Winds of Freedom

We, a group of 177 Stanford faculty members from more than 40 departments, have sent the following open letter to the U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, requesting that he terminates the Department of Justice's China Initiative. The China Initiative was introduced by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018, with the objective of combating economic espionage, intellectual property theft and other threats associated with the government of China. However, we believe the China Initiative raises concerns of racial profiling and is harming the United States' research and technology competitiveness. This initiative has led to a significant increase of investigations and prosecutions to researchers in academia, with most cases unrelated to intellectual property theft or scientific/economic espionage. The investigations have been disproportionately targeting researchers of Chinese origin. The chilling effect of the China Initiative is discouraging many scholars from coming to or staying in the U.S. We believe that the China Initiative should be terminated. A copy of the letter and signatories is included below, which can also be accessed here. For further reading about this topic, visit our Background Information page.

This website was created to host the open letter and provide other related information. The name "Winds of Freedom" comes from the Stanford motto "Die Luft der Freiheit weht" ("The Winds of Freedom Blow"). This letter represents our personal opinions on this matter.


We are very glad to see that more and more colleagues in other universities have endorsed our letter or submitted their own letter to the Attorney General. This includes the following petitions:

  1. 214 faculty members of UC Berkeley endorsed our letter on Sep. 30th, 2021.

  2. 167 faculty members of Temple University endorsed our letter on Oct. 12th, 2021.

  3. 198 faculty members of Princeton University endorsed our letter on Oct. 18th, 2021.

  4. 430 faculty members of University of Michigan endorsed our letter on Oct. 25th, 2021.

  5. The Faculty Senate of Southern Illinois University endorsed our letter on Nov. 9th, 2021.

  6. APA Justice launched a campaign and call for additional faculty members and qualified endorsers from universities and educational institutions across the U.S. to endorse our letter. Until today (Nov. 18, 2021) 1,113 faculty members, scholars and administrators from 218 institutions across all 50 states, and District of Coloumbia and Perto Rico, have signed the APA Justice letter.

  7. Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) sent a Call for Support on Open Letters to end China Initiative.

  8. Rep. Ted Lieu included our letter into the Congress hearing record, together with two other documents.

  9. 192 faculty members of Yale University endorsed our letter on Jan 10, 2022.

  10. 92 faculty members of Univ. of California Irvine sent a letter to Attorney General Garland on Jan. 31, 2022.

  11. More than 150 faculty members of University of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Attorney General Garland on Feb. 2, 2022.

  12. 219 faculty members of the Baylor College of Medicine sent a letter to Attorney General Garland on Mar. 1, 2022.

In a statement made by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen on Feb. 23, 2022, the Department of Justice has officially dropped the China Initiative and acknowledged some of its problems. However, the efforts to protect research freedom and the battles against racial profiling will continue.

Instructions on further action

If you are also concerned about this issue, we encourage you to consider a letter from faculty at your institution to either endorse our letter or send a similar letter. We have provided a .docx version of our letter, a google form template and some instructions which could be used to collect signatories. We can be reached by email

Letter to Attorney General Print Final Version 0908.pdf