Por­trayal of Chi­nese as spy risks re­buked

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HONG XIAO in New York xi­ao­hong@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Re­cent tes­ti­mony at a con­gres­sional hear­ing sin­gling out Chi­nese stu­dents and schol­ars as a threat to US na­tional se­cu­rity has prompted a strong re­sponse by Chi­nese-Amer­i­can politi­cians and other groups.

The com­ments at is­sue were made on Feb 13 in Wash­ing­ton dur­ing the US Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s an­nual open hear­ing on the great­est threats fac­ing the US.

Dur­ing the ses­sion, a host of in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity lead­ers shared con­cerns about dan­gers around the globe.

US Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio, a Repub­li­can from Florida who ran for pres­i­dent in 2016, and FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray dis­cussed whether Chi­nese stu­dents in the US could be covertly gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence for their gov­ern­ment back home.

At one point Ru­bio asked, “What … is the coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence risk posed to US na­tional se­cu­rity from Chi­nese stu­dents, par­tic­u­larly those in ad­vanced pro­grams in the sci­ences and math­e­mat­ics?”

Wray re­sponded that Chi­nese stu­dents and schol­ars pose a na­tional se­cu­rity threat that re­quires “a whole-of-so­ci­ety re­sponse by us”.

Demo­cratic US rep­re­sen­ta­tives Judy Chu and Ted Lieu of Cal­i­for­nia and Grace Meng of New York re­leased state­ments on Feb 15 in re­sponse.

“I con­demn these re­marks en­tirely and re­ject these dan­ger­ous at­tempts to build a case that Chi­nese stu­dents, pro­fes­sors and schol­ars should be viewed with more sus­pi­cion than oth­ers,” Chu wrote.

Chu agreed that es­pi­onage threats from for­eign coun­tries should be taken se­ri­ously.

“How­ever, Sen­a­tor Ru­bio’s lead­ing ques­tion and FBI Di­rec­tor Wray’s sweep­ingly broad re­sponse were com­pletely ir­re­spon­si­ble gen­er­al­iza­tions that at­tempt to paint all Chi­nese stu­dents and schol­ars as spies for China,” Chu wrote.

She pro­vided the ex­am­ples of Sherry Chen and Xi Xiaox­ing, two Chi­nese-Amer­i­can sci­en­tists who were ac­cused of es­pi­onage by the FBI only to have the charges dropped with­out ex­pla­na­tion.

“This caused ir­repara­ble harm to their ca­reers, rep­u­ta­tions and lives, and many Asian-Amer­i­can stu­dents, sci­en­tists and schol­ars now fear that they may be sub­jected to the same dis­crim­i­na­tion,” Chu wrote.

Chu called for the high­es­trank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in the US to not cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages in­di­vid­u­als to view Chi­nese and Chi­nese Amer­i­cans with more sus­pi­cion.

“There are cer­tain poli­cies and ac­tions by our gov­ern­ment that, while di­rected at for­eign na­tion­als, could af­fect Amer­i­cans who hap­pen to be of cer­tain eth­nic­i­ties,” Lieu wrote.

“I called on FBI Di­rec­tor Wray to clar­ify his com­ments and make a strong state­ment that Chi­nese-Amer­i­cans are not viewed by the FBI as any more sus­pi­cious than any other Amer­i­can,” he wrote.

“The in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, right­fully, should al­ways be con­cerned about for­eign na­tion­als who have ac­cess to our most sen­si­tive se­crets,” wrote Meng. “That, how­ever,

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