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The China Initiative
Chen was probably the most high-profile scientists charged beneath the China Initiative, a Justice Division program launched beneath the Trump administration to counter financial espionage and nationwide safety threats from the Individuals’s Republic of China.
Regardless of its said function, an investigation by MIT Expertise Evaluate discovered that the initiative has more and more centered on prosecuting lecturers for analysis integrity points—hiding ties or funding from Chinese language entities on grant or visa kinds—moderately than industrial spies stealing commerce secrets and techniques. Solely 19 of 77 circumstances (25%) recognized by MIT Expertise Evaluate alleged violations of the Financial Espionage Act, whereas 23 circumstances (30%) alleged grant or visa fraud by lecturers.
Our reporting has additionally discovered that the initiative has disproportionately affected scientists of Chinese language heritage, who make up 130 (88%) of the 148 people charged beneath the initiative.
Chen’s is the eighth analysis integrity case to be dismissed earlier than trial. Final month, Harvard professor Charles Lieber was discovered responsible on six prices of false statements and tax fraud, whereas the trial of College of Tennessee–Knoxville professor Anming Hu, the primary analysis integrity case to go earlier than a jury, ended first in a mistrial after which a full acquittal.
Analysis Integrity circumstances from MIT Expertise Evaluate’s China Initiative Database
A catalyzing case
Chen’s indictment raised consciousness of, and opposition to, the initiative due to each his prominence in his subject and the seemingly routine actions for which he was being prosecuted, together with collaborating with a Chinese language college on the behest of his dwelling establishment. “We’re all Gang Chen,” a bunch of MIT college wrote on the time, expressing each their assist for his or her colleague and their issues about how their very own actions might draw authorities scrutiny.
“The top of the felony case is great information for Professor Chen, and his protection workforce deserves accolades for his or her work,” mentioned Margaret Lewis, a legislation professor at Seton Corridor College who has written in regards to the China Initiative. “However let’s not neglect that he was first questioned on the airport two years in the past and indicted one 12 months in the past. The human price is intense even when prices are dropped.”
In a word to the MIT group shortly after the dismissal was filed, MIT president L. Rafael Reif supplied some extra element on that human price. “Gang was first detained at Logan Airport about six weeks earlier than the pandemic struck our group; the burdens on him and his relations since then have been past imagining,” he wrote, whereas acknowledging that “this case has additionally brought on ongoing misery all through our group, notably for Gang’s pals, college students, and colleagues, and for these throughout MIT and elsewhere who’re of Chinese language descent.”
“Having had religion in Gang from the start, we are able to all be grateful that a simply consequence of a dangerous course of is on the horizon. We’re anticipating his full return to our group,” Reif mentioned.