Researchers take funds, expertise
in the federal government have only recently begun investigating and putting the universities on notice,” he told The Washington Times.
In June, the National Institutes of Health said it referred to a government watchdog 16 accusations related to foreign influence of U.S.-funded research. It also said it has raised similar concerns with 61 research institutions.
Earlier this year, Virginia Tech professor Yiheng Percival Zhang was convicted of grant fraud for collecting federal funding for research he had already completed in China.
In the Kansas and Virginia Tech cases, the professors were linked to China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Beijing says the plan is a way to keep connections with scientists who have left China to do research elsewhere, but the U.S. government says it is a conduit to pilfer intellectual property and technology.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray singled out China’s Thousand Talents Plan during testimony to the Senate last month. While acknowledging the plan isn’t inherently illegal, Mr. Wray said FBI investigations have uncovered cases in which it was used to flow U.S. intellectual property to China.
“The irony is that the U.S. is essentially funding that economic resurgence through various money it provides through grants, etc.,” he said. “I think we need to be a little bit careful that we don’t find ourselves in a situation where U.S. taxpayer money is being misappropriated for the advancement of China’s economic dominance over us.”
In May, the FBI arrested a former scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on suspicion of lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan.
Federal prosecutors say Turab Lookman made false statements about his participation in the talent program to federal investigators during a background check and on a 2017 employment questionnaire. He has pleaded not guilty. A month later, the Energy Department banned its employees from participating in the program.
Chinese and Chinese American researchers said the crackdown amounts to racial profiling. They say unfair targeting by the FBI and others could lead to a “brain drain” because top researchers would shy away from the U.S.
In May 2015, the FBI arrested Xi Xiaoxing, a researcher at Temple University accused of sharing American technology