PHYSI­CIST LINKED TO CHINA PRO­GRAM

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

A noted Chi­nese-born physi­cist and Stan­ford Univer­sity quan­tum sci­en­tist who died Dec. 1 was linked to Bei­jing’s ma­jor pro­gram to cor­ner the world mar­ket in key ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

Zhang Shoucheng, 55, died in an ap­par­ent sui­cide and had suf­fered from de­pres­sion, ac­cord­ing to his fam­ily.

How­ever, his death came days af­ter a Nov. 30 re­port by U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer link­ing the Sil­i­con Val­ley ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Dan­hua Cap­i­tal, which Zhang founded and led, to China’s “Made in China 2025” tech­nol­ogy dom­i­nance pro­gram.

The 2025 pro­gram was launched in 2015 and has been cited by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to show that Bei­jing is en­gaged in a strate­gic pro­gram of steal­ing Amer­i­can know-how. The pro­gram is aimed at help­ing China dom­i­nate world mar­kets in ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing aero­space, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, ro­bot­ics, in­dus­trial ma­chin­ery, new ma­te­ri­als and au­to­mo­biles.

Stan­ford said in a state­ment that Zhang was in­volved in quan­tum physics re­search re­lated to in­ter­act­ing elec­trons. The re­search led to pre­dic­tions of new phe­nom­ena and ex­otic states of mat­ter. He took part in re­search on novel ma­te­ri­als, quan­tum grav­ity and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

The USTR re­port said China is us­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Dan­hua, as a new means of se­cur­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty from the United States. From Jan­uary to May, Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment reached nearly $2.4 bil­lion, a record level.

The in­vest­ment fo­cused on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, ro­bot­ics, vir­tual re­al­ity and fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy.

“Chi­nese [ven­ture cap­i­tal] in­vest­ment in the United States can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in tech­nol­ogy trans­fer,” the re­port said.

The Lighthizer re­port said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has cre­ated and backed a web of com­pa­nies in Sil­i­con Val­ley “to fur­ther the in­dus­trial pol­icy goals of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.”

The in­vest­ments in­clude fund­ing dozens and in some cases hun­dreds of startup com­pa­nies that are then ex­ploited by the ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pa­nies to gain ac­cess to their in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. The ac­cess gives the com­pa­nies “the abil­ity to in­flu­ence and po­ten­tially co­erce man­age­ment,” the re­port said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Zhang’s com­pany Dan­hua Cap­i­tal, op­er­at­ing un­der the name Dig­i­tal Hori­zon Cap­i­tal, was funded by a state-owned Bei­jing gov­ern­ment en­ter­prise called Zhong­guan­cun De­vel­op­ment Group (ZDG).

“Other no­table Chi­nese com­pa­nies with state con­nec­tions and strong in­ter­ests in tech­nol­ogy also al­lo­cated funds to Dan­hua Cap­i­tal,” the re­port said.

They in­clude iF­lyTek, a voice recog­ni­tion com­pany, and BOE Tech­nol­ogy Group Co. Ltd. The con­trol­ling share­holder of BEO is the state-owned As­sets Su­per­vi­sion and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mis­sion of the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment.

“In to­tal, Dan­hua lists 113 U.S. com­pa­nies in its port­fo­lio, and most of those com­pa­nies fall within emerg­ing sec­tors and tech­nolo­gies (such as biotech­nol­ogy and AI) that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied as strate­gic pri­or­i­ties,” the re­port said.

Zhang’s fam­ily de­nied so­cial me­dia re­ports of foul play sur­round­ing the death or that the death was re­lated to the re­lease of the USTR re­port.

“There is no po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the au­thor­i­ties have no sus­pi­cions about Pro­fes­sor Zhang’s death,” a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the fam­ily told the South China Morn­ing Post. “You will read that he com­mit­ted sui­cide, and this is true. But you will also read in the fam­ily state­ment that he had pe­ri­odic bouts with de­pres­sion.”

The death is sus­pi­cious, how­ever, be­cause of its close­ness to the re­lease of the USTR re­port.

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