The Chinese regime defended its espionage tactics through what it calls the “Thousand Talents Program of the CCP” after the conviction on Tuesday of a Harvard University professor, accused of lying to the U.S. government about his connection with the recruitment program and concealing the funding he received from the regime.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, said that China promotes talent exchanges as well as the United States and other countries, according to Associated Press. 

The Chinese official criticized U.S. agencies and officials saying they should not “stigmatize” this practice, and instead, should do more to promote science and technology cooperation and human exchanges between China and the United States. 

But the influence of the Chinese regime in the U.S. has become an issue of increasing concern from different sectors of society, especially with regard to education.

In that sense, the funds that finance renowned U.S. institutions and their high standards in education at an international level have also been under the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Justice. The trial of Charles Lieber is the most prominent case in the U.S. sanctions campaign over the Chinese regime’s infiltration of universities.

Lieber, 62, a professor and former chair of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department was convicted in federal court on Tuesday, Dec. 21, of concealing his ties to China, securing a victory for the U.S. Justice Department in the so-called “China Initiative,” a campaign dating back to the administration of former President Trump that aims to tackle “Chinese economic espionage” in the country.

Among the charges against him were concealing his ties to a Chinese university and the CCP’s Thousand Talents Program while receiving U.S. taxpayer money through federal government funds—charges to which Lieber pleaded not guilty. 

The Chinese program is designed to recruit individuals with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property to promote China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.

Prosecutors in the Lieber trial said that in 2011 Lieber became a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology, from which he received US$1.5 million to set up a Chinese lab and agreed to pay him US$50,000 a month and US$150,000 for annual living expenses.

The theft of research at U.S. universities and colleges by Chinese agents is also a fact that has been going on for decades. However, it was only under the Trump administration that authorities began to investigate them and bring them to justice for eventual conviction.

Trump appointee John Charles Demers, who served as assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, stated in a statement in December 2020:

“China’s endemic efforts to rob, replicate and replace products that they do not have the ability to develop themselves will not go unchecked, and those who seek to profit from the theft of trade secrets will be held accountable.”

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