American News Apr 24, 2021 4:30 PM EST

Hundreds of US scientists accused of Chinese industrial espionage

Just as the Biden administration has relaxed rules around Chinese influence on research and universities, alarms are being raised over the theft of American trade secrets.

Hundreds of US scientists accused of Chinese industrial espionage
Brendan Boucher Ottawa, ON
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Just as the Biden administration has relaxed rules around Chinese influence on research and universities, alarms are being raised over the theft of American trade secrets.

Many in the US intelligence community have raised concerns about the lack of a coordinated response to the continued theft of American trade secrets by compromised scientists who are being funded by the Chinese government, the Washington Times reports.  

The National Institute of Health has revealed that it is investigating over 500 scientists and more than 90 institutions including universities for their alleged ties with Chinese Talent recruitment programs and the smuggling of US research and technology to the Chinese government.

Dr. Michael S. Lauer, the director of extramural research for the NIH expressed concern about the volume of cases the NIH is investigating. Dr. Lauer said that the flow of scientists and institutions that needed investigating is constant and the case load is affecting the operations of the NIH.

Researchers like Song Guo Zheng, 58, was a professor of internal medicine who lead research projects at Ohio State and Pennsylvania State universities while receiving $4.1 million of Federal research grants. Zheng plead guilty in Federal court after it was revealed that he lied to cover up his connections with the Chinese government and state-run universities in China to whom he promised the results of his research.

Zheng was apart of a Chinese Talent Plans where the Chinese government attempts to recruit American scientist to aid China by stealing research and trade secrets from American companies and universities. Zheng was apprehended at an airport in Alaska as he attempted to flea the US with his family as his corruption was revealed.

"Zheng promised China he would enhance the country’s biomedical research. He was preparing to flee the United States after he learned that his American employer had begun an administrative process into whether or not he was complying with American taxpayer-funded grant rules," read a statement from US attorney David M. DeVillers.

Cases like this have led many in government to raise the alarm that not enough is being done to combat Chinese espionage. Candice Wright of the Government Accountability Office told lawmakers, "We heard from certainly a number of the principal investigators that many of them either were not aware of foreign talent recruitment programs or just simply didn’t even know how they would go about identifying such programs."

The Biden Administration reversed a Trump-era directive that required universities to disclose financial relationships with Chinese funded institutions like the Confucius Institutes. The Trump administration pursued a much stricter policy on Chinese industrial espionage including closing a Chinese Consulate in Houston which it claimed was primary there to steal from American companies.  

Former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine also raised to Congress concerns over the reliance on foreign born scientists in the research industry, stating "Today’s U.S. science and engineering enterprise would barely function were it not for the thousands of foreign-born individuals who came to America, received their graduate education here and contributed mightily to our nation’s science and engineering community."

The Biden administration continues to pursue a lax policy when it comes to China echoing Biden's previous statements, "They're not bad folks."

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