‘These investigations almost seem to be a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel exercise…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Several months ago, Charles Lieber was arrested and indicted for allegedly spying for the Chinese government.
Lieber, 60, was a longtime Harvard professor and chair of the prestigious Harvard Chemistry and Biology Department.
Unbeknownst to the U.S. government, he was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from several Chinese state-backed entities while overseeing $15 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.
He was also paid $50,000 per month by the Wuhan University of Technology in China and was under contract to recruit other American academics to work with the communist government.
Lieber failed to disclose his ties to China, as required by the Department of Defense, and then lied about them when confronted by federal authorities.
Two Chinese nationals were charged separately in the scheme. One fled to China and the other was arrested at Boston’s Logan International Airport attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research back to China.
This is not an isolated scenario.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are many cases of nefarious Chinese government-sponsored activities inside American universities—far more than what U.S. officials may realize.
Spying and research theft has been allowed to proliferate for years and only now—under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr—does the Department of Justice appear to be cracking down.
The CIS, a pro-legal immigration group, exposes the “ongoing threat” in a new study titled, “Stopping Chinese Infiltration of U.S. Educational and Research Institutions.”
It’s an update to a report the nonprofit organization released last year that dealt with the spying activities of foreign students.
A spate of recent arrests and convictions of university professors, researchers and other academics has uncovered a massive national security issue that’s spider-webbed throughout top institutions in the higher education system, the group says.
The new report explains that progress against corrupt university employees has occurred because of a presidential proclamation authorizing criminal sanctions and the brazenness of the corrupt activities.
“These investigations almost seem to be a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel exercise,” said Dan Cadman, the report’s author.
“This is deeply disturbing because, when one contemplates it, it suggests the brazenness with which China has been picking U.S. pockets—for a very long time—and the casual indifference with which American researchers and academia have approached their often-secret research on behalf of our government,” he said.
The Chinese government calls its university espionage effort the “Thousand Talents” program.
It’s meant to give the appearance of a legitimate academic funding academic source, but according to the Justice Department and CIS the Thousand Talents program amounts to “a thinly veiled bribery scheme.”
Academics are lured into the program with the promise of generous funding, prestigious titles, laboratory access at Chinese universities, large salaries and fringe benefits—all in exchange for giving away secrets to agents of the Chinese government.
Not coincidentally, many of the compromised professors and academics are first conducting research on behalf of the U.S. government.
“Additional steps must be taken to safeguard America’s defense secrets and intellectual property through adoption of a systemic, interdisciplinary approach,” said Cadman.
He recommended an array of policy adjustments all based on expanding current authorities granted by Trump’s executive initiative.
The CIS report calls for DOJ coordination with the secretary of State and the secretary of Homeland Security to “de-naturalize” corrupt Chinese students, researchers and other spies who have taken advantage of U.S. immigration laws.
The report also calls for the expulsion of all foreign proxy spies, tightened control of universities and research facilities receiving U.S. funding, and oversight of key researchers’ foreign travel and attendance at conferences.
These precautions are already applied to government employees and contractors with access to sensitive government information, but academics have to-date been given a pass.