So many China-owned U.S. scientists? NIH overwhelmed by new investigations

by WorldTribune Staff, April 27, 2021

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is investigating over 500 scientists and more than 90 institutions for their alleged ties with Chinese recruitment programs and the smuggling of American research and technology to the communist government in Beijing.

Dr. Michael Lauer, the director of extramural research for the NIH, said in congressional testimony that the sheer number of scientists and institutions that need to be investigated is constant and the case load is affecting the operations of the NIH.

The Trump administration pursued a much stricter policy on Chinese industrial espionage including closing a Chinese Consulate in Houston which it claimed was primarily there to steal from American companies.

China has targeted research throughout the U.S. economy, from corn growers to cancer researchers, Lauer said.

In 2020, more than 90 percent of the scientists under investigation had received support from the communist government in China, Lauer added.

U.S attorney David DeVillers cited the case of researcher Song Guo Zheng, who was a professor of internal medicine who lead research projects at Ohio State and Penn 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 communist government and state-run universities in China to whom he promised the results of his research.

Zheng was part of Chinese Talent Plans where the Chinese government attempts to recruit American scientists 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 U.S. with his family after 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,” DeVillers said.

The Department of Justice last week charged Southern Illinois University-Carbondale math professor and university researcher Mingqing Xiao with wire fraud over allegations that he hid his Chinese government funding while obtaining funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Team Biden has 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 primarily there to steal from American companies.

“Everybody’s got a good plan until they get hit in the face, right? The Chinese will absolutely … hit us in the face, and then we will see if this administration has the backbone to do the right thing,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Pompeo described “the central challenge of our time” to be the effort by the Chinese Communist Party to supplant the U.S. as the world’s preeminent economic and military power. “It’s not just an external threat,” Pompeo said. “They’re here.”

Pompeo said the Trump administration made the decision to close the Chinese Consulate in Houston because it was a hub for Beijing’s espionage activities.

“There is enormous efforts of influence operations here that the Chinese Communist Party carries out in the United States,” Pompeo added, urging lawmakers to work with elected officials in their districts, including city council members, county commissions, and school board members, to help identify seemingly benign projects and investments funded by Beijing that are fronts for spying. “The Chinese are attempting to influence them all. It is deep. It is broad. It is continuing.”


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