Amid Renewed Controversy, Penn Scholars Defend Opposition to China Initiative to Catch Spies

Revelations that President Joe Biden kept classified federal documents at his University of Pennsylvania office in Washington, D.C., have brought renewed scrutiny to his relationship with the university — and the role many Penn professors had in persuading his administration to kill a Justice Department project combatting Chinese espionage.

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Activist Pressure to Nix DOJ Program to Catch Chinese Spies Grows Despite Conviction of Harvard Professor

Charles Lieber

Aloose coalition of lawmakers, nonprofits, and academics has continued to pressure the Biden administration to end the so-called China Initiative, despite the Justice Department program to thwart Chinese spies winning a key conviction last month of a high-profile Harvard professor.

The Trump administration launched the China Initiative in 2018 to preserve America’s technological edge. The program, which the Biden administration has so far continued, is designed to identify and prosecute those engaged in hacking, stealing trade secrets, and conducting economic espionage for the Chinese government on U.S. soil.

Charles Lieber, a renowned nanotechnology professor who chaired Harvard’s Chemistry Department, became one of the China Initiative’s most prominent targets. Federal prosecutors accused him of lying to government authorities about multiple links to Beijing.

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Top Harvard Professor Found Guilty of Lying About Payments from China

A prominent Harvard professor was found guilty Tuesday of lying about his ties to China, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Charles Lieber, a scientist in Harvard University’s chemistry and engineering departments, was found guilty on six counts of lying related to his work at the Wuhan University of Technology, the WSJ reported.

Lieber was first arrested by federal authorities in January 2020 and charged with making false statements regarding his participation in the Thousand Talents Plan, a Chinese recruitment program that aims to foster foreign academic talent. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Lieber was paid by the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) “$50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.”

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