The Chinese initiative of the United States to combat Chinese economic espionage is a mess. We have data to prove it.

Our analysis shows that starting in 2019 and continuing through 2020, the focus has shifted to academia. In 2018, there was not a single case related to research integrity. By 2020, 16 of the 31 newly announced cases (52%) are. (A case of scientific integrity in 2020 also included allegations of EEA violations.)

At least 14 of these scientific research integrity cases are suspected of being related to the “talent plan,” in which Chinese universities provide financial incentives for scholars to conduct research, teach, or bring other activities back to sponsoring institutions, partly because of – or full-time. (At least four trade secret theft cases also involved participation in so-called talent programs.)

Federal officials have repeatedly stated that it is not illegal to participate in talent programs-even though they do Call In the words of Bill Priestap, former assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence unit, they are “brain enhancement programs” that “encourage the theft of intellectual property from American institutions.”

Cases prosecuted annually under the initiative of China

National security links are sometimes weak.

The initiative is increasingly focusing on research integrity, including some academic research cases, such as artificial intelligence or robotics, which may have national security applications. However, most of the work in these fields is basic research, and many subjects involved have no clear connection with national security.

Nine of the 23 research integrity cases involved health and medical researchers, including people who study heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer; a representative of the NIH off-campus research office stated that six of them were NIH-funded researchers Centered-This reflects the institute’s active stance in countering the “improper influence of foreign governments on federally funded research”. NIH’s efforts Earlier than China Initiative, The representative referred questions about the initiative to the Ministry of Justice.

Funding agency suspected of being deceived in a scientific research integrity case

On the contrary, the impact on national security seems to be centered on the fear that any individual with ties to China may act as “non-traditional collectors.” The China Initiative fact sheet describes them as “researchers in laboratories, universities, and defense industrial bases.” Used to transfer technology that is contrary to the interests of the United States. “But as our database shows, out of 22 researchers, only two have been accused of trying to improperly obtain information or smuggle goods into China. These allegations were later dropped.

The Chinese initiative case is not as successful as the U.S. Department of Justice claims

Three years after the plan was launched, less than one-third of the defendants of the Chinese initiative have been convicted. Of the 148 people charged, only 40 pleaded guilty or were found guilty, and the plea charges are usually lighter than the initial charges. Almost two-thirds of the cases (64%) are still pending. Of the 95 people still facing charges, 71 were not actively prosecuted because the defendant was in an unknown location or could not be extradited.

In particular, many cases involving the integrity of scientific research have fallen apart. Although 8 cases are still pending, 7 cases against scholars have been expelled or acquitted, and 6 cases ended in plea or conviction. This is in stark contrast to the usual results in federal criminal cases, according to which the vast majority end in guilty pleas. Pew Research Center’s analysis of federal statistics.

The result of the accused under the Chinese initiative

Nearly 90% of the cases are against people of Chinese descent

One of the earliest and most enduring criticisms of the Chinese initiative is that it may lead to increased racial profiling of Chinese, Asian Americans, and Asian immigrants. Justice Department officials have repeatedly denied that the “China Initiative” involves racial profiling, but Chinese individuals, including American citizens, have been disproportionately affected.

Our analysis shows that of the 148 people prosecuted under the “China Initiative”, 130 (88%) are of Chinese descent. This includes American citizens of Chinese descent and citizens of the People’s Republic of China, as well as citizens and others who have long-term connections with the Chinese diaspora communities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia.

Chinese defendant

Seton Hall University law professor Margaret Lewis (Margaret Lewis) said these numbers are “very high” and she has written numerous articles on the “China Initiative.” “We know this will be the majority,” she added, but this “just emphasizes the argument of’but we are also suing others’…not convincing.”

The new case is still being heard under the Biden administration

The initiative was launched during the Trump administration. Although the number of cases clearly related to the China initiative has declined since President Joe Biden took office, it has not stopped.

For example, Xiao Mingqing, a professor of mathematics in Illinois, was accused in April 2021 of failing to disclose his relationship with a Chinese university when applying for funding from the National Science Foundation. In July, an indictment against four Chinese citizens for invading dozens of companies and research institutions was announced.

At the same time, federal lawyers continued to promote prosecution. The trial of Harvard chemistry professor Charles Lieber, accused of concealing ties with Chinese universities, is scheduled to begin in mid-December. Prosecutors plan to try cases against prominent academics in Kansas, Arkansas and elsewhere in the first few months of 2022.

New China Initiative cases filed in 2021

How it started

Over the years, people’s worries about China’s economic espionage against the United States have increased day by day, and the estimated losses to the US economy vary. 20 billion to 30 billion U.S. dollars Up to $600 billionDuring the Obama administration, law enforcement began to increase dramatically: in 2013, when the government announced a new strategy To prevent the theft of US trade secrets, China has been mentioned more than 100 times.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice filed cyber espionage charges against five hackers affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army—this was the first time the U.S. prosecuted a state actor for hacking. Then in 2015, the United States and China signed a historic agreement promising not to conduct commercial cyber thefts against each other’s companies.

But it wasn’t until 2018, as part of the Trump administration’s more confrontational approach to China, that the department officially launched its first country-specific program.

According to the former Justice Department official, the effort was “data-driven” and “derived from intelligence briefings to the Attorney General and FBI senior Justice Department leaders, which showed day after day that China and its affiliates Agency on the board of directors [were] Deeply participate in hacker attacks, economic espionage, theft of commercial secrets, subvert our export controls, and use non-traditional collection methods. He said this includes the Chinese consulate’s help to “cover up the actual background of Chinese visa applicants to avoid visa rejections due to their relationship with the Chinese military.”

However, Trump’s campaign was partly aimed at anti-China and anti-communist rhetoric—notoriously A rally In 2016, “We cannot continue to allow China to rape our country, this is what they are doing.”

According to reports, a few months before the launch of the initiative, Trump told a group of corporate executives at a closed-door dinner held at his Sea Lake Manor, “Almost every [Chinese] The students who come to this country are spies. ”

This is the background when Sessions announced the launch of the China Initiative on November 1, 2018.

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