THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C. (Via teleconference)
MODERATOR: Okay. Good afternoon and welcome. My name is Jen McAndrew, and I’m a media relations officer with the Washington Foreign Press Center and the moderator for today’s on-the-record briefing on “Enhancing the Integrity of America’s Research Enterprise.”
First I will introduce our briefers, and then I will give the ground rules. Today’s briefing will discuss U.S. policy on enhancing U.S. research security and the steps U.S. higher education stakeholders are taking to address these risks, while maintaining an open and collaborative enterprise.
Our first briefer, Richard Buangan, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State. He will discuss the threats to the research integrity posed by China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy, and how the State Department is engaging with universities and stakeholders to address these risks.
Our second briefer, Dr. Ted Mitchell, is the President of the American Council on Education. He will describe the efforts of the Council in encouraging higher education institutions to review their relationships with China, and ensure they are protecting their institutions.
Our third briefer, Dr. Sandra Brown, is the Vice Chancellor for Research and Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Diego. She will share examples of how UC San Diego has combatted undue foreign government influence on campus, and the University of California’s leadership on addressing – upon addressing the risks of foreign talent recruitment programs.
We greatly appreciate Deputy Assistant Secretary Buangan, Dr. Mitchell, and Dr. Brown for giving their time today for this briefing.
And now for the ground rules: This briefing is on the record. The views expressed by briefers not affiliated with the Department of State or U.S. Government are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State. We will post the transcript of this briefing later today on our website. If you publish a story as a result of this briefing, please share that with us by sending an e-mail to DCFPC@state.gov.
Our briefers will give brief remarks and then we will open it up for Q&A. If you have a question, please open the participant box and virtually raise your hand. At that time, we will unmute you and turn on your video so that you can ask your question. If you have not already done so, please take the time now to rename your Zoom profile with your full name and the name of your media outlet. I will also note that we have a hard stop time of 3:30 for this briefing, so we will only have time for a few questions. We apologize in advance if we are not able to get to your question.
And with that, I will pass it over to Deputy Assistant Secretary Buangan.
MR BUANGAN: Thank you very much, Jen. Good afternoon, everyone. Good to be with you today. Pleased to be speaking alongside Dr. Ted Mitchell and Vice Chancellor Sandra Brown, who are on the front lines of our efforts to ensure an open, free, and competitive academic environment that is protected from coercive, deceptive, and illegal foreign activity that threatens academic freedom and misuses access to world class institutions.
I’ll talk first about why the State Department is focusing on this issue, and then share a few concrete examples of how we are collaborating with the U.S. higher education sector to safeguard American universities against certain vulnerabilities that naturally exist within an open educational system like our own.
From the onset, it’s important to underscore the value of maintaining an open, free, competitive research environment for all students and scholars attending or working at U.S. institutions. These values underpin our nation’s success and scientific preeminence. That’s what spurs American ingenuity and entrepreneurship across a multitude of sectors.
At the same time, we must recognize threats to our national security and address vulnerabilities where they exist. Unfortunately for the People’s Republic of China under the leadership control of the Chinese Communist Party, has far too long taken advantage of our educational institutions by exploiting our open academic system for the benefit of the Chinese Government, its economy, and their military.
I’d like to go into more depth about the last one. We’ll talk about China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy and its insidious effects on our institutions.
The CCP has adopted a whole-of-system strategy called Military-Civil Fusion that seeks to harness and synchronize all state resources for military and economic development, eliminating barriers between the national defense and economic systems in China. MCF incorporates civil society at home and abroad, including academic researchers into military modernization research and development programs.
Specifically, this strategy targets overseas collaboration in advance – and emerging technologies to advance China’s military. Xi Jinping declared at the 19th Party Congress that China seeks to develop a world class military by 2049, driven by advanced emerging technologies. This MCF effort seeks to ensure the development of the most technologically advanced military in the world by 2049. To get there, the CCP legally compels its citizens to share information with the Chinese Government. This includes Chinese researchers residing in the United States and all over the world.
Talent development and recruitment is a central component upon which MCF relies. The PRC’s talent recruitment and knowledge acquisition programs target U.S. and foreign students, scholars, and researchers in key science, technology, engineering, math fields. Acceptance of PRC funding can result in contractual obligations to comply with PRC directives to engage in illicit activities such as theft of intellectual property and transfer of technology to China.
Research and development in U.S. universities and university labs is a key driver of innovation and technology production. The CCP has undertaken a strategy to reform its own university system to be capable of world class science, and a driver of innovation in China, and have tasked them to partner with leading universities in the world in this pursuit. We know the technology being produced at U.S. universities and academic labs is being explicitly targeted by the CCP, including for diversion to military and uses under MCF.
The PRC Government has instructed some Chinese universities to establish partnerships with leading foreign universities and research labs to capture technology and intellectual property at the development phase. In a number of high-profile cases, such collaborations have led to the theft and transfer to China of foreign technology and intellectual property. Implementation of MCF seeks to ensure this foreign technology and intellectual property simultaneously drive economic and military modernization in China.
Most countries implement UN Security Council Resolution 1540 in adhering to a set of internationally recognized norms that preclude them from diverting advanced civilian technologies to military ends. China has predictably shown no regard for these norms. Under MCF, the PRC leadership is intentionally and explicitly seeking to fuse the civilian and military innovation systems, making it difficult to have any confidence in Beijing’s commitments to civil use in a system that now makes no distinction between civilian and military use.
For the CCP, international scientific collaboration is not about advancing science; it’s about ensuring that the PRC become the global leader in science and technology in order to dominate key sectors and to achieve economic and military modernization goals.
The U.S. Government is implementing multiple policies to address the risk posed by Beijing’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy. These include: improving and implementing export controls, screening students, researchers, scholars, technicians, and academics to prevent certain individuals from unauthorized access to export control technology; and exercising vigilance against both clandestine campaigns to steal Western technology and overt efforts to purchase access through corporate acquisitions, joint ventures, fractional ownership schemes, partnerships, and trade conditioned upon technology transfer.
We’ve already taken a number of actions. In May, President Trump announced changes to visa rules for certain students, researchers, and scholars from the PRC. This was targeted and narrowly focused change to our visa policy that prohibits entry into the U.S. any Chinese national seeking to conduct research or study in specific sensitive fields, and who either receives funding from or has current or former ties to an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the Military-Civil Fusion Strategy.
We have also embarked on a robust exchange with our higher education institutions on the threats to research integrity from the PRC. The White House, the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. technical agencies are working closely with non-government stakeholders, including the American Council on Education, to review and strengthen our national systems on research integrity and security. We are also working with our countries – with other countries who face similar challenges to protect the universal principles that underpin scientific advancement.
On August 18th, Under Secretary Keith Krach, who wrote to the governing boards of American universities to emphasize our concern about these threats and to open a dialogue about how we can ensure academic freedom for all, while also protecting the research taking place on our campuses.
There have been multiple related arrests by the FBI, and I want to highlight one. In June 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice charged four PRC citizens, three visiting researchers, and a Ph.D. student with visa fraud for lying about their status as members of the PRC’s military forces while in the United States conducting research. At least one was funded by the China Scholarship Council.
In closing, it’s critical that we maintain our open, free, and democratic educational institutions while addressing the real risks posed by the PRC. Our goal is to promote academic and research collaborations that operate with integrity. Open, transparent, reciprocal, and merit-based. We welcome international students and scholars on U.S. campuses to reap the benefits of the best education the world has to offer.
In 2019 – the U.S. welcomed more students from China in 2019 than from any other country – some 370,000 individuals; a number that has quadrupled over the last decade. Scholars from the PRC make tremendous contributions to the international R&D enterprise, and we can and do benefit from engaging them; however, we must remain clear-eyed to the risks that certain foreign governments may pose to the integrity and security of our enterprise.
The United States is the world leader as a host of international students and we want to keep it that way. For more information, I encourage you to visit the State Department’s website. Our Military-Civil Fusion webpage contains a wealth of facts and other information.
In conclusion, the steps we have taken to date are targeted to impact a very limited number of students and scholars who pose the greatest risk to our national security, allowing hundreds of thousands of other students and researchers to learn, collaborate, and innovate freely. Thank you and I look forward to your questions at the end of the presentation.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Deputy Assistant Secretary. And now, over to Dr. Ted Mitchell of the American Council for Education.
MR MITCHELL: You’d think after six months I would get the mute button right. Thanks, Jen. Thanks, Secretary Buangan, Vice Chancellor Brown. Great to be with you today. Thanks for inviting me to talk about this important issue.
I am, as Jen noted, the President of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for higher education in the U.S. We represent the presidents of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, two-year institutions, four-year institutions, public and private institutions. And that sweep represents most of the institutions in America doing sponsored research, either through government funds, independent agency funds, or through private donations.
In addition, I think you all know that the U.S. has long been the destination of choice for the world’s most talented students and scholars. So 1 million international students attend U.S. colleges and universities annually, contributing greatly to this country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy. Indeed, according to a recent ACE-sponsored survey, two-thirds of U.S. voters agree that American college students benefit from close and regular contact with students from other countries.
When we think about balancing national security, campus internationalization, and academic research, a number of things come to the forefront. Our institutions understand the need and wholeheartedly support efforts to protect our national and our economic security. At the same time, and as Secretary Buangan has pointed out, the vibrancy of our education and research enterprise is enhanced by international partnerships and scholarly exchanges.
We are concerned in the current environment about mandates that are overly broad and that challenge the traditional openness of our institutions of higher education, but we intend and do work closely with the Department of State and others to make sure that we are achieving the right balance between security and openness. We firmly believe that protecting our national and economic security while continuing to attract international students and scholars are not mutually exclusive. We respect the central role of the U.S. Government, including the national security and federal science agencies play in that effort.
ACE, the national academies, and other national higher education associations are working to ensure that our community is an important partner in those discussions. Indeed, along with those other major higher education associations, we have worked very closely over the past three years to build relationships with the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of State. We communicate regularly with our partners in these agencies, and those have been very productive conversations. We’re grateful for their partnership.
Last year, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, joined Bill Evanina, the director of National Counterintelligence, to speak at the ACE annual meeting, a group of 2,000 college presidents and other higher education leaders, when we gathered. They were very clear and very open, and the conversation was very forthright about the need to achieve a balance between security and openness, and we feel that we will continue to work together to achieve a productive resolution to these issues.
Last year, we worked with Senators Warner and Rubio to convene a group of our member presidents to receive a classified briefing on the kinds of threats that Secretary Buangan mentioned, so that our presidents would have a chance to dig deeper into these issues to understand their significance.
We also worked with the FBI to convene two major academic summits to allow the FBI to engage in conversation with higher education leaders. These have been productive exchanges. One of the results of these exchanges has been a letter that we sent to the institutions that have Confucius Institutes to help them build guardrails in their agreements, building Confucius Institutes to make sure that they were indeed achieving this balance between security and openness.
So we look forward to further collaboration, I look forward to your questions, and hope that as a result of our continuing work on campuses and the associations and with the government, we will make sure that America is the country of destination for the very best the world has to offer.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Mitchell, and now over to Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor Dr. Sandra Brown of University of California, San Diego.
MS BROWN: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m so pleased to join you, and to help share the information today. I’m going to show just a few slides. It will allow us to give an example of how, at the University of California San Diego and in the University of California system, we are seeking to enhance the integrity of our research enterprise in the face of these challenges that Secretary Buangan and Dr. Mitchell so articulately shared with us.
First, just a touch about UC San Diego: We are a large research academic institution generating about a billion and a half dollars in research funding every year. And with our nearly 40,000 students, 23 percent of them are international students, and as Dr. Buangan mentioned, students coming from China are the largest group that are currently at UC San Diego.
UC San Diego is committed to the kind of multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research that poses the greatest promise for us to be able to assist in solving some of the global problems we face today. And the open research environment is really the optimal environment for discovery, innovation, and solutions to these complex problems.
We know, however, in this broader security context, education will be the key to compliance. So how our university’s specifically responding to these challenges? Well, I think through four different mechanisms.
Number one, most universities in the United States that are research institutions have active education and training programs for their faculty, for their staff, and for their students. We at UC San Diego start the first day that new faculty come on board, and foreign engagement information is included in their orientation. We hold compliance training sessions for faculty and critical administrators, and have a multitude of ways of communicating with our faculty through town halls, through newsletters, emails, and even individual consultations, and have information readily available to them through a variety of sources.
Additionally, we have added to our systems specific enhancements that allow us to monitor, to assist faculty in reporting and students in reporting their engagements or potential engagements with foreign entities. We have added cybersecurity enhancements to our UC San Diego system, new conflict of commitment and conflict of interest disclosure systems, and expanded monitoring processes that include campus-wide compliance orientation processes. We have an aggressive export control unit that evaluates foreign agreements, visitor reviews, and restricted party screenings all across campus.
The third component to our model is to partner with national academic research organizations such as ACE, APLU, AAU, et cetera, but also with the law enforcement organizations and federal agencies that were – have been discussed by the previous two speakers. We feel that this partnership is critical both in their understanding the challenges that the universities face, and also for the universities to be able to get advice to cooperate and to facilitate engagements and to get assistance in managing these issues.
And then finally, I wanted to mention that the University of California, which is a ten-campus and three-national layout system, has established guidelines for all of these types of things across each of the campuses. The implementation might be slightly different across each campus depending on the resources that they have and the challenges that they have, but they’re consistent guidelines that are employed across all of the ten campuses. An example would be a consistent conflict of commitment form that everyone now utilizes across the ten campuses and, whereby, we’re able to monitor.
So at UC San Diego, we have a variety of mechanisms that are in place – actually, it’s a nine-party system – that allow us to look at the very types of things that are most threatened or of concern with regard to some of the challenges for foreign engagements and potential loss of information or inappropriate sharing. And these risk management controls and processes are designed to, at all levels, be able to identify early on any problems, challenges, or misunderstandings that faculty have so that we can assist them in addressing the concerns. And this is true for our visitors on campus, our visiting scientists, it’s true for our post-doctoral scholars, for our graduate students, for our undergraduates as well.
So with that, I’m – I think we’re all happy to take any questions, and thank you for allowing me to share the example that we have at UC San Diego.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Brown. We will now begin the Q&A portion of the briefing. If you have a question, you can submit it in the chat box or also raise your hand virtually using the participant field. I would like to take the first question from Owen Churchill, South China Morning Post. You are unmuted.
QUESTION: Thank you, Jen, and thanks to all the speakers for that briefing.
A question, if I may, to Deputy Assistant Secretary Buangan: A number of rights groups worry that the – this administration’s approach, its hardline approach to protecting U.S. IP, including the DOJ’s China Initiative, has contributed to racial profiling of ethnically Chinese and other Asian American researchers. And in fact, just today, I think the Asian Americans for Advancing Justice organization has announced a new initiative to offer legal support, specifically to those who feel they’ve been unduly targeted because of their ethnicity or race. So I just – I’d be curious to get your response to those concerns.
And then secondly, what, if anything, that the State Department is doing to mitigate potential fallout such as racial profiling? Thank you.
MR BUANGAN: Right. Thank you so much for that question. Yeah, obviously it’s a concern for all of us. I wanted to just underscore at the top that we certainly strive to welcome all international students and scholars to the United States, and we do this because of the threats to our national security that the PRC’s undertaking. We want to welcome legitimate Chinese PRC citizens who are coming here to study and do research and collaborate with not just their American counterparts, with counterparts from all over the world.
I think the answer to your question is when we operate in a very open and free society, the challenge is not simply to direct campuses to exclude certain individuals because of their ethnicity and their nationality. It’s certainly not what our intent is.
But as I said before – and I think other speakers were talking about it earlier just now – is to maintain a culture of awareness and just share best practices so we can mitigate these threats as they come. It’s certainly, certainly not the goal to target particular groups other than those who are here for the purposes that – who are not here for the purposes that they stated. There are certainly a lot of them. They’re not relegated to just the PRC, but certainly the PRC is one of the biggest culprits, and the PRC Government is certainly enhancing efforts to do more nefarious activities. So it’s certainly a challenge, but we strive to maintain an open atmosphere. We want to continue to welcome students from all over the world, including from China, who want to come here to study, research, and collaborate legitimately.
MODERATOR: Thank you. I would next like to call on Ben Marks, NHK, Japan. We will now unmute you.
QUESTION: Thank you to Foreign Press Center and to the participants for holding this briefing for us. I have one question for the deputy assistant secretary, and then a second question for either Dr. Mitchell or Vice Chancellor Brown.
First, to DAS Buangan: Earlier in September, the State Department said they had revoked over a thousand visas of PRC nationals. I was wondering if you had an updated number of how many visas have been revoked as of now.
And to either Dr. Mitchell or Vice Chancellor Brown, is there any concern for U.S. universities that you might be missing out on top talent as far as researchers? And any – because maybe they don’t want to deal with the hassle of applying to U.S. universities under further scrutiny or because they might perceive there might be some sort of stigma attached to being a Chinese researcher on U.S. campuses. Thank you.
MR BUANGAN: Thanks for your question, Ben. I don’t have an update. I know that our colleagues over at the FBI and other law enforcement entities who are – over at DHS who are engaged with that. Certainly, if we do have one, I’ll make sure our colleagues at the FPC reach out to you, or our press office, but to my knowledge, I don’t have an update.
MR MITCHELL: Let me take the second one, or at least start. The short answer, Ben, is yes, we’re concerned at a number of different levels. We’re concerned that at the rhetorical level, the United States is not appearing to be as welcoming a place as we’d like it to be.
Second, at the level of sheer confusion, we have worked with the State Department and with other agencies to try to clarify some of the newer regulations because many of them seem to overlap, some of them seem to be contradictory. And we want the regulations to be as clear as possible so that our students, either those who are thinking of coming here or those who are here, understand the rules of the road. I think visa extensions is an example of that.
And then at the particular point that you’re discussing, yes, we are concerned. And we observe now in real time that students are choosing to go to institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom and in Canada rather than to the United States. And that does concern us that Dr. Brown and other colleagues across the country are not having access to the very best talent.
MS BROWN: I would just add to Dr. Mitchell’s comments that we are deeply concerned. We’re concerned both for students understanding that our campus and other premier research campuses, academic campuses around the country, are welcoming to Chinese students and Chinese scholars. The key, of course, is to ensure that there’s appropriate vetting and that there is real understanding, strong communication of the expectations as they join our campus. That is on the one side, to encourage the ongoing solicitation of the best and the brightest from around the world to come to be educated here in the United States and to work with us in our research.
The flip side is we have a very important responsibility to our academic community, to our scholars regardless of their background to ensure that we support them and that we provide information that will ensure that they will be able to make good decisions as they are approached by different entities and have opportunities for a variety of kinds of engagements. So I’m – we are concerned and we are doing things both actively to encourage the best and brightest to come here, but also to support those who are already here and help assist them in ensuring the right course of action.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Brown. I’ve been told we do have a little bit more time for maybe one or two more questions, so I would now like to call on Pearl Matibe, Open Parliament Zimbabwe. We will now unmute you.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you very much. My question is: Are you seeing this problem happening anywhere else outside of the U.S. – this might be a question for the State Department – in places where, for instance, we know in Africa where there are some countries that have got a look East approach?
And to perhaps Sandra Brown, since you’ve done this book in the past and you’ve seen China use – fusing Russia-style tactics on other platforms, are you seeing any Russia-style fused in tactics in this instance? Thanks very much.
MR BUANGAN: Thanks for your question, Pearl. Yes, we’re seeing it everywhere. This – it’s not just here in the United States, but in places in Europe, in places in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia where the Chinese are engaging in collaborative efforts with local colleges, universities, educational institutions, and some of it for the intent of intellectual property theft and the same threats that exist here in the United States.
So we’re working with countries to make that – make those threats aware both at the government level and at the non-government level. And it’s, again, not a problem that is relegated just to the United States, but we’re seeing it happen all over the world.
MS BROWN: With regard to the second portion of your question, first of all, thank you for asking. And we do not discriminate against any country, any individual, who seeks to garner information inappropriately from our campuses, so it doesn’t really matter where the individual or the cyberattack is coming from. For example, we take aggressive action in our monitoring these uniformly and we – unfortunately, but I think as is common with other premier academic institutions – are experiencing these kinds of challenges from many countries around the world.
MODERATOR: Thank you. I believe we have time for one last question and I will call on Nike Ching from Voice of America. We will now unmute you.
QUESTION: Thank you, Foreign Press Center, for this call. My questions are addressed to all. On September 30th, Deputy White House National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger mentioned a surgical approach that is targeting only about 1 percent of 400,000 Chinese students in the United States over China’s efforts to obtain U.S. technology and other information. So that’s about 4,000. Is it an accurate estimate?
My question also is: Will there be new visa restrictions as a vetting process to limit students with PLA connections to come to the United States? What options are being considered?
And separately, do you find any indication that certain students are spreading disinformation or misinformation inside the U.S. via Twitter or other social media platform? Thank you.
MR BUANGAN: Thanks, Nike for your – I missed the first part. Did you ask if the one percent or the 400,000 figure is accurate? You were asking us to verify that?
QUESTION: Yes, so that – what bring – 1 percent of 400,000 Chinese students will be 4,000 students being surgically targeted.
MR BUANGAN: Yeah. Well, look, I don’t have specific numbers to share with you, but I do agree and reemphasize Deputy National Secretary Advisor Pottinger’s remarks that this is a very surgical and targeted approach. Again, we are not doing broad-based efforts across the board of all PRC students and scholars. There are a handful of them that are engaging in these malign activities, and our intent is to use the best tools that we have available to target them while respecting the freedom of legitimate students and scholars to study and work here. So I think that we would just underscore again that this is not an approach that we are broad – doing it broad-based.
With respect to certain students, we’ve seen it across the board. I would refer you to our colleagues over at the FBI, who have been doing some of that investigatory research and doing it from a law enforcement perspective. And it’s certainly one that we are sharing with our colleagues in the university and college and educational fields so that they can be aware as well. I don’t have specific categories of students or researchers to share with you, but I do know that we’re seeing it across the board.
MS BROWN: I might add to Secretary Buangan’s comments just about the communication of students. While we are attending to the issues that were raised, I do want to highlight that one of the values of coming to American universities is freedom of speech. And oftentimes, we have students who initially come and have some hesitancy in sharing their true opinions and their thoughts and ideas.
And I think one of the things that’s happening in American universities is that we are developing best practices for assisting students from all around the world in being able to operate with the same values of open communication that we operate in the United States. And that is one of the advantages of coming to American universities.
MR MITCHELL: Another I think to build on Dr. Brown’s comment is that, despite the fact that there is a rhetorical overlay that may discourage students from coming to America, on campus we continue to see wide support for broad diversity in the student population. It goes back to Owen’s first question. Yes, there are instances of profiling. There are instances of stereotyping and even instances of abuse, but we’re heartened that those are few and far between, and that by and large our communities have come together to support our international students.
On the issue – the first issue, I think that it’s – and I mentioned this a bit ago – I think in an environment in which there is a lack of clarity there will be a lot of misinformation and a lot of storytelling. And we are in a situation where there is not a lack of transparency and clarity on a lot of the specific programs that are underway. And again, that’s why we’re urging and working with the State Department and other agencies to make sure that these are clear; the guardrails are in place in clear ways. And the processes for students need to be absolutely crystal clear and operational.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Brown and Dr. Mitchell. Deputy Assistant Secretary Buangan, I’d just like to turn it back to you for any final remarks before we close the session.
MR BUANGAN: No, I don’t have anything. Thank you so much, Jen.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you to our three briefers for sharing all of their expertise and insights on this very important, timely topic. If you have any question that was not answered, you can please email it to DCFPC@state.gov, and we are happy to send those follow-up questions to our briefers. And this briefing transcript will be posted on our website fpc.state.gov, within 24 hours. Thank you again to all of our briefers and good afternoon. That concludes today’s briefing.