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The China Initiative disproportionally targets researchers

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Firm News |

I have repeatedly blogged about the Justice Department’s “China Initiative”. By numerous accounts, China’s Communist government has pursued an intelligence gathering and intellectual property theft operation of enormous proportions in the USA. We want our Government to protect us and investigate these operations.
However, the approach undertaken by the FBI and Federal prosecutors for the last several years has targeted several professors who do normal research cooperatively with Chinese universities.  The effect has been to intimidate many professors— almost all of whom were born in China but chose to settle here.  While the Government claims such cases are only brought when intelligence proves the targets are “bad guys”, the indictments do not support such claims.
This New York Times news story, “U.S. Drops Its Case Against M.I.T. Scientist Accused of Hiding China Links“, concerns the most recent failed prosecutorial attempt.  Most of these cases concern charges based on filling out forms with their own universities— arguing that the universities then misled the Government with other forms.
The Biden Administration reportedly is reconsidering the China Initiative. I hope they continue to protect national security but avoid intimidating or charging professors with crimes simply because they may get caught up in normal university bureaucracy.
We want to be the free country— the place where scholars are not subject to government intimidation or surprise law enforcement visits. Those tactics are reminiscent of the countries where people flee so they can settle here.

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