The FBI has uncovered more cases of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) infiltrating American universities and now two professors are facing legal consequences for hiding their links to the Chinese regime’s “Thousand Talents Program,” which has been described by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a program that “rewards individuals for stealing proprietary information.”
Professor Xiao-Jiang Li from Atlanta Georgia’s Emory University was sentenced to 1 year of probation and ordered to pay over $35,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. Li earned at least $500,000 in foreign income, but did not report it when filing taxes, the DOJ said in a release. On May 8, Li plead guilty to filing a false tax return.
On the same day, another professor from the University of Arkansas, Simon Saw-Teong Ang, was arrested. He’s now being investigated for a similar lack of transparency. If he is convicted, he will face a maximum of 20 years in prison, the DOJ said.
He had close relations with China, but was not honest about those connections after he received grant money from NASA.
Ang allegedly wrote an email asking another researcher to keep quiet about his connection with the CCP, court papers show.
“Not many people here know I am one of them, but if this leaks out, my job here will be in deep troubles,” Ang wrote in the email dated June, 2019.
Why would these professors try to hide their relationship with China’s “Thousand Talents Program”?
Professor Frank Tian Xie from South Carolina University says it was a surprise to him too that they would hide this information.
“If it’s something that is perfectly legal they should publicize it and make it known to their superior. It’s something they can brag about, something they can put on their resume and show off. It’s part of their academic accomplishments,” Xie said. “They must have signed something in secrecy… something that prevents them from reporting this openly to their American institution.”
He says it is most likely because the program is run by the Communist Party and Chinese military with the goal of stealing technology from the United States.
He said he has also faced similar pressure to bring technology back to the regime, since he is from China.
“I was a chemistry doctorate student at Purdue university, and the Chinese consulate would come to encourage us to bring technology back to China. They would openly ask us to get the technology and bring and it back,” Xie said. “So I think for those researchers in America of Chinese origin, they need to think again.”
The DOJ is remaining vigilant over “programs such as the Thousand Talents Program that recruits professors and researchers to work for China,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, in the release.