The China Initiative’s first academic guilty verdict raises more questions than it answers

Former DOJ officials involved in the program have recently called for, among others, an end to the effort or a significant change in focus. Testifying before Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland promised that the Justice Department would review the program.

In this context, “If only the innocent had been released [the Lieber] In that case, it would look bad for the government, “said Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University, who wrote extensively on the initiative.

But the underlying facts of the case were strong ખાસ especially in the face of FBI agents seeing Liber’s video footage that he had received cash from a Chinese university, that he had a Chinese bank account, and that it was not (in his own words) “completely transparent.” By any stretch of the imagination when asked about this and other issues by Harvard administrators and government investigators.

These facts made the Liber case “out” in the China Initiative case, according to a defense attorney who followed the case for clues to his own client’s next trial. It is not particularly useful for predicting how future research will handle integrity cases under government initiatives, but it does raise questions about the critical component of investigations – talent recruitment programs.

Thousands of unanswered questions on the talent program

The question of Liber’s innocence could be resolved, at least for now – with his attorney, Mark Mukesi, Told reporters That they “respect the verdict but will continue to fight,” suggests a possible appeal પરંતુ but the trial has raised additional questions about China’s initiative and, in particular, the Chinese “talent programs” that encouraged such scrutiny.

Talent programs are government-sponsored recruitment schemes designed to attract foreign specialists (aka “talent”) to work in China. Collaboration with Chinese universities, including collaboration through talent programs, has long been encouraged by US institutions, but in the last few years the federal government has become increasingly concerned about them.

The 2019 Senate report found that China provided funding for more than 200 talent programs, enrolling more than 7,000 participants en masse. The report also warns that talent programs have encouraged its members to “lie to US grant-making agencies on grant applications.” ,In China, Shadow Labs works on research similar to their US research and in some cases replaces the hard-earned intellectual capital of US scientists. “

“Part of the person who made Dr. Liber interview was that he had a lot of Chinese students, right?”

-Mark Mukasi, Liber’s defense lawyer

An examination of MIT Technology Review’s data found that 19 (25%) of the 77 known China Initiative cases suspected that defendants participated in Chinese talent programs. Fourteen of these talent-program cases, meanwhile, have arisen over alleged research integrity issues from the failure to disclose all affiliations with Chinese institutions on grant documentation. None of the 14 cases involved allegations that the scientist in question transferred US intellectual property to China.

Despite the government’s skepticism over talent programs, it is still not entirely clear whether announcing participation in them is considered physical or abstract for the federal government.

This was a question that other China Initiative case defense attorneys, who were following the trial to better prepare their own client’s case and did not want to be named to avoid jeopardizing it, hoped to clarify during the process. Will come. Without that clarification, he said, some defendants could argue that they did not know it was material to report talent-program participation.

In the end, this was an important point in Liber’s trial: he hid his involvement and income from Harvard University officials and then government investigators, and the plaintiff did not need to clarify on record whether there was a participation in the thousand. There was a need to report whether Talent was programmed or not.

“My ears are stuck.”

On the fifth day of the trial, Liber’s defense attorney, Mukase, asked a series of questions to Department of Defense investigator Amy Mousson about her motivation for investigating the chemist. “Did the Naval Research Laboratory inform you that Libre has ‘a lot of Chinese students in their lab?'” He asked.

“Yes,” replied the mouse.

U.S. Attorney James Drabick objected to the question, however, so Mukase answered it again. “As part of which Dr. Liber was one of the people interviewed who had a lot of Chinese students, right? ”

“The trial was about personal guilt … not a policy debate on China’s initiative.”

Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University

When Moussaoui did not respond immediately, he continued: Liber had a lot of Chinese students working in his lab, yes or no? ”

“Yes,” replied the mouse.

a Courtroom tweet Summing up the exchange, “my ears are ringing,” said Lewis, a law scholar, because “it goes far beyond the fundamental question, ‘To what extent do the government and US society, more generally, see it as a reason to increase connectivity with China? Doubt?'”

It shows “bias,” she adds, which goes against what the Justice Department has long claimed: that “their actions are based entirely on what people have done, their behavior, and race, ethnicity, nationality, national origin.” Or any of those factors. ”

But racial bias, which is well-documented in the FBI and DOJ, is not the only type of bias the trial shows, according to Michael German, a former FBI special agent who became a whistleblower and an ally with the Brennan Center for Justice. The other issue he sees is selective action.

“I’m sure if the Department of Justice focused the same resources on investigating corporate executives rather than academics, they would find many more people who didn’t report all of their income properly,” he says. “Tax evasion” – the subject of two charges for which Liber was eventually convicted – is “a problem, but not a problem that the China Initiative was supposed to solve.”

For many critics of the China Initiative, there are broader and more fundamental questions that highlight each such case-outcome regardless.

Are “prison years the penalty that we, as a society, deserve for such public violations?” Asks law scholar Lewis. The ruling doesn’t say anything, she adds, about another concern: that China’s initiative creates a “big narrative threat to people with ties to China.”

According to Lewis, the issues are expected to remain unresolved at the end of Liber’s trial. “The trial was about Liber’s personal guilt,” she says. “There is no policy discussion on China’s initiative.”

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