Biden DOJ scuttles Trump China crackdown amid criticism from left and CCP | News

JBiden’s Justice Department announced on Wednesday it would end a Trump-era initiative to crack down on Chinese economic espionage after a year of criticism from some fellow Democrats, hundreds of professors in university, left-wing activists and the Chinese Communist Party. Party itself.

The China Initiative, which also sought to address the broader national security threat posed by China, could have been perceived as racist, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said. While he acknowledged that China posed a “significant and evolving threat”, Olsen said the previous administration had taken “the wrong approach”.

“By grouping the cases under the heading China Initiative, we have contributed to the harmful impression that the Department of Justice applies a lower standard to investigate and prosecute criminal acts related to this country or that we consider in some way or on the other people with racial, ethnic, or family ties to China differently,” he said.


Olsen said he never saw any indication that any enforcement decisions made by the DOJ were based on bias. But he said the “mere perception” of those possibilities undermined the program.

The about-face comes after many Republicans had previously accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of easing enforcement of the initiative, which is part of the department’s national security division. Olsen, who recently announcement the creation of a new domestic counterterrorism unit, began a review of the China Initiative in November and announced the results of its review during a speech at George University’s National Security Institute. mason.

The China Initiative, started by the Trump DOJ in 2018, attempted to shed light on the CCP’s coordinated and multifaceted efforts to steal research and technology from the United States, with a particular attention on the eradication of academics who hid their ties to China.

Despite setbacks in some cases, many people have been convicted under the China Initiative, including Harvard professor Charles Lieber, who was found guilty in December of all federal charges related to covering up his ties to a Chinese university and the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents program while receiving funding from the U.S. government, in what was seen as a big win for the initiative.

But the Department of Justice also dropped a important case against Gang Chen, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in January after accusing him of hiding millions of dollars worth of contracts with China while being paid to do research for the US government. Chen was arrested a year ago and charged with wire fraud, failing to file a foreign bank account report and making a false statement in a tax return in connection with undisclosed contracts of “various entities of the People’s Republic of China to the United States Department of Energy.” The Ministry of Justice deposit a dismissal “in the interests of justice”.

In a similar twist, the DOJ fall half a dozen cases against Chinese military researchers in July after accusing them of lying about their visas. A DOJ spokesperson said the move was also “in the interests of justice.”

Simon Saw-Teong Ang, a former University of Arkansas-Fayetteville professor who received millions of dollars in US government research grants, including $500,000 from NASA, was stopped in 2020 for working as the director of the school’s high-density electronics center when he would have been to be a secret participant in China’s Thousand Talents program. He pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the FBI about the existence of patents for his inventions in China the day after the Chen case was dropped.

The garland was demand about the China Initiative in October, and he called the CCP a “serious threat” to intellectual property, espionage, cyberattacks and ransomware.

“We have to protect the country from this, and we will, and we advocate for this,” Garland told the Senate. “The other thing to always remember is that we never investigate or prosecute based on a person’s ethnic identity or country of origin.”

The CCP has relentlessly attacked the China Initiative, including when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed in January that it “is nothing but a clumsy tool used by anti-China forces in the United States to abuse the concept of national security to suppress and contain China.” “The CCP has also seized on US-based efforts by professors and activists to end it.

The left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice published an article in January on “Why Ending the Department of Justice’s ‘China Initiative’ Is Vital to US Security.”

A group of Yale faculty members published a January letter in Garland, following a Stanford professors dispatched in September, saying they opposed DOJ’s China initiative. Yale faculty members warned Garland that the initiative amounts to racial profiling and “harms” “the competitiveness of United States research and technology and fuels bias.”

Also last month, an activist group, United Chinese Americans, organized a demonstration outside the DOJ calling for end of initiative. Haipei Shue, the group’s chairman, hosted a virtual roundtable after the protest, saying his goal was “to stop the China Initiative as we know it.” Two Democratic members of Congress, Representatives Judy Chu and Ted Lieu, also spoke to the panel about their opposition to the DOJ’s efforts.

The US Heartland China Association, a pro-China business group that counted two key Biden administration picks as strategic advisors, also likened the DOJ’s China initiative to “McCarthyism” during a panel discussion in November. The panel exposing the DOJ’s efforts to fight Chinese espionage was led by Shue.

“We have heard concerns from the civil rights community that the ‘China Initiative’ has fueled a narrative of intolerance and prejudice. To many, this narrative suggests that the Department of Justice treats people differently. from China or of Chinese descent. Hate crimes and hate incidents in Asia only heighten these concerns,” Olsen said Wednesday. “We have heard that these lawsuits and the public narrative around these cases can create a chilling atmosphere for scientists and scholars that harms the scientific enterprise in the United States.”

A group of Republican senators called Garland in May for not implementing an “amnesty program”, they said the Department of Justice was considering allowing researchers at US colleges and universities to disclose past foreign funding, including Chinawithout fear of prosecution.

Olsen said Wednesday that in evaluating cases related to academic integrity and research security, the DOJ’s NSD would work with the FBI to consider “whether criminal prosecution is warranted or whether civil or administrative remedies are more appropriate.” appropriate”. He also said that the White House Office of Science and Technology “issued new guidance to federal funding agencies that included procedures for correcting prior inaccurate or incomplete disclosures about connections” and that “when individuals voluntarily correct prior material omissions and resolve related administrative requests, this will advise against criminal prosecution.”

Director of the FBI Christophe Wray said this month that growing economic and national security threatens posed by the CCP is more serious than ever, likening the danger to a more technologically sophisticated Soviet Union, arguing that “there is simply no country that poses a broader threat to our ideas, our innovation and our economic security than China”.

The FBI director said the bureau has more than 2,000 active investigations focused on the Chinese government attempting to steal American information and technology, revealing that the FBI opens new China-related counterintelligence operations every 12 time.

Earlier this month, Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on nearly two dozen US universities to end their partnerships with Chinese universities aiding the CCP’s military-industrial complex.

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