Taking the Gold in Technology Theft

How China is gathering massive amounts of technological knowhow from the US without consequences Commentary As some of us watch the Winter Olympics in Beijing (and some of us don’t), the most important games are being played every day in America’s universities, corporate labs, and research institutions. That’s where China is capturing the gold that really matters. The stakes for the United States in maintaining the technological edge couldn’t be higher. No Area Untouched China’s advanced weapons systems, including its hypersonic nuclear missiles against which we cannot defend ourselves, is a direct result of technology theft. This advanced delivery system gives China first strike capabilities, and was built from “tiny chips designed by a Chinese firm called Phytium Technology using American software and built in the world’s most advanced chip factory in Taiwan, which hums with American precision machinery,” according to The Washington Post. As bad as that sounds—and it’s impossible to overstate the risk—China’s hypersonic missile program is just the tip of the technology iceberg. The Chinese regime’s technology theft is so expansive that it reaches into virtually every area of scientific inquiry, including artificial intelligence (AI), bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, and other next generation science. How has China been able to do this on such a broad scale? Theft by Every Means Possible Of course, there are other very effective means of technology theft that have served China well such as cybertheft hacking techniques, deploying spyware in routers, networks, and other equipment, and simply talking to people about what they do and how they do it, specifically targeting the U.S. national security community. In fact, the LinkedIn, the preferred social media channel for business professionals, has been a major source of technological data gathering for the CCP. But the United States is just one of many Western nations to be targeted by the CCP via LinkedIn. For instance, in 2017 and 2018 respectively, Germany and France both detected thousands of LinkedIn targeting efforts into offering interviews to non-existent jobs in order to gather technological data and processes from the interviewees. That’s pretty much been the modus operandi of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ever since China opened to the United States—or perhaps more accurately—since the United States opened to China. Thousand Talents Plan a Huge Success For years, Beijing’s Thousand Talents Plan has been as successful as any other method for gaining new technology from the United States. This one program has enabled China to steal, bribe, and/or recruit the very smartest technological and bioengineering ideas and minds from America and bring them to China. The logic is as simple as it is devastating. Why go through the entire long, expensive, and difficult process of developing technology when you can just steal it, especially if you can buy the scientists who are developing new scientific breakthroughs as they’re creating them? In 2017, the Chinese congratulated themselves on their Thousand Talents Plan. The results were undeniable. China had started 73 companies and recruited over 11,000 “high-level talent” from foreign countries to work in China. The Best and Brightest Traitors One of those “high-talent” scientists was Dr. Charles Lieber, former chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department. Lieber served as the principal investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, and received more than $15 million in taxpayer money for research grants. But Lieber was also a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University Technology (WUT), but didn’t tell anybody. Little wonder why. Under his WUT work agreement, he was paid $50,000 per month plus living expenses of up to $150,000, and was awarded $1.5 million to develop a new WUT research laboratory. Lieber was arrested at Logan Airport in Boston with two “colleagues” on their way to China attempting to smuggle 19 vials of biological research specimens. One colleague was Zaosong Zheng, 31, a former scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The other was a Boston University researcher who was also a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army. In December 2021, Lieber was found guilty of concealing his affiliation with the WUT and his participation in the Thousand Talents Plan. Harvard University nanotechnology professor Charles Lieber arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston, Mass., on Dec. 14, 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters) US Response Is Feeble and Ineffective But now that the United States knows what China is doing, what is the administration doing about it? According to the MIT Technology Review, the Biden administration has started its “China Initiative” to look into cases of theft, bribery, recruitment, and other nefarious actions from Beijing that target U.S. technology. But there are a few chall

Taking the Gold in Technology Theft

How China is gathering massive amounts of technological knowhow from the US without consequences

Commentary

As some of us watch the Winter Olympics in Beijing (and some of us don’t), the most important games are being played every day in America’s universities, corporate labs, and research institutions.

That’s where China is capturing the gold that really matters.

The stakes for the United States in maintaining the technological edge couldn’t be higher.

No Area Untouched

China’s advanced weapons systems, including its hypersonic nuclear missiles against which we cannot defend ourselves, is a direct result of technology theft.

This advanced delivery system gives China first strike capabilities, and was built from “tiny chips designed by a Chinese firm called Phytium Technology using American software and built in the world’s most advanced chip factory in Taiwan, which hums with American precision machinery,” according to The Washington Post.

As bad as that sounds—and it’s impossible to overstate the risk—China’s hypersonic missile program is just the tip of the technology iceberg.

The Chinese regime’s technology theft is so expansive that it reaches into virtually every area of scientific inquiry, including artificial intelligence (AI), bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, and other next generation science.

How has China been able to do this on such a broad scale?

Theft by Every Means Possible

Of course, there are other very effective means of technology theft that have served China well such as cybertheft hacking techniques, deploying spyware in routers, networks, and other equipment, and simply talking to people about what they do and how they do it, specifically targeting the U.S. national security community.

In fact, the LinkedIn, the preferred social media channel for business professionals, has been a major source of technological data gathering for the CCP.

But the United States is just one of many Western nations to be targeted by the CCP via LinkedIn.

For instance, in 2017 and 2018 respectively, Germany and France both detected thousands of LinkedIn targeting efforts into offering interviews to non-existent jobs in order to gather technological data and processes from the interviewees.

That’s pretty much been the modus operandi of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ever since China opened to the United States—or perhaps more accurately—since the United States opened to China.

Thousand Talents Plan a Huge Success

For years, Beijing’s Thousand Talents Plan has been as successful as any other method for gaining new technology from the United States.

This one program has enabled China to steal, bribe, and/or recruit the very smartest technological and bioengineering ideas and minds from America and bring them to China.

The logic is as simple as it is devastating.

Why go through the entire long, expensive, and difficult process of developing technology when you can just steal it, especially if you can buy the scientists who are developing new scientific breakthroughs as they’re creating them?

In 2017, the Chinese congratulated themselves on their Thousand Talents Plan. The results were undeniable. China had started 73 companies and recruited over 11,000 “high-level talent” from foreign countries to work in China.

The Best and Brightest Traitors

One of those “high-talent” scientists was Dr. Charles Lieber, former chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department.

Lieber served as the principal investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, and received more than $15 million in taxpayer money for research grants. But Lieber was also a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University Technology (WUT), but didn’t tell anybody.

Little wonder why. Under his WUT work agreement, he was paid $50,000 per month plus living expenses of up to $150,000, and was awarded $1.5 million to develop a new WUT research laboratory.

Lieber was arrested at Logan Airport in Boston with two “colleagues” on their way to China attempting to smuggle 19 vials of biological research specimens. One colleague was Zaosong Zheng, 31, a former scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The other was a Boston University researcher who was also a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army.

In December 2021, Lieber was found guilty of concealing his affiliation with the WUT and his participation in the Thousand Talents Plan.

Professor Charles Lieber 1
Harvard University nanotechnology professor Charles Lieber arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston, Mass., on Dec. 14, 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

US Response Is Feeble and Ineffective

But now that the United States knows what China is doing, what is the administration doing about it?

According to the MIT Technology Review, the Biden administration has started its “China Initiative” to look into cases of theft, bribery, recruitment, and other nefarious actions from Beijing that target U.S. technology.

But there are a few challenges, to say the least. The first is defining the problem. The Department of Justice has no definition of what constitutes a “China Initiative” case.

Perhaps, that’s why only about one-quarter of cases have led to convictions. It’s rather difficult to identify a problem if you can’t clearly define it. Not a good start.

Then, there’s the shifting focus of the initiative. Instead of concentrating on economic espionage, the focus has shifted to investigating academics charged with breaching “research integrity” in one way or another.

Different problem, but a similar outcome.

A third challenge is the delicate issue of race. Almost 90 percent of all those charged with theft, espionage, or other acts aimed at technology or information exfiltration are ethnically Chinese.

In these bizarrely woke times, what politician wants to be accused of racial bias—or worse—outright racism?

No administration, that’s for certain.

But still, just a little perspective and common sense is all that’s required to resolve this correctly. It’s likely a safe bet that the vast majority of Chinese students coming from China are Chinese, just as most Nazi spies were likely of German heritage.

Who would’ve imagined?

As for the U.S. government’s “China Initiative,” like most government programs, it has yet to live up to its billing.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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James R. Gorrie is the author of “The China Crisis” (Wiley, 2013) and writes on his blog, TheBananaRepublican.com. He is based in Southern California.