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article imageChina threatens to detain U.S. nationals over prosecutions

By Karen Graham     Oct 18, 2020 in World
Chinese government officials are warning their American counterparts they may detain U.S. nationals in China in response to the Justice Department’s prosecution of Chinese military-affiliated scholars.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that unnamed people familiar with the matter, said Chinese officials had issued repeated warnings through multiple channels to U.S. government officials, including Beijing's US Embassy.
According to the sources, the warnings began this past summer after Chinese scientists were arrested in the United States and accused of hiding their active-duty standing with the People's Liberation Army. China's message is straight to the point - end prosecutions of Chinese scholars in U.S. courts, or Americans in China could find themselves in violation of Chinese law.
On September 14, the U.S. State Department issued a warning against travel to China, saying the Chinese government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans for U.S. citizens and others “to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments," according to Reuters.
When asked for a response, the White House deferred to the State Department which said n an emailed statement that it stresses “to the Chinese government – including at the highest levels – our concern about China’s coercive use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries, and will continue to do so until we see a transparent and fair process.”
The battle against foreign interference
There is more to this ongoing story than meets the eye. Scientists with ties to the Chinese military have been visiting the United States for years, says Brad Farnsworth, vice-president of the American Council on Education in Washington DC. Only now, U.S. officials are “really looking very carefully at the background of the people who come here, particularly from China.”
How the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are focusing their investigations remains unclear. However, it has to do with the Chinese scientists having ties to the military. And that is not unusual because most of China's top scientists are affiliated with the military, says Mary Gallagher, a political scientist who studies US–China relations at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“And so by default, if you’re a doctor at one of those hospitals, you're going to have an affiliation with the Chinese military.” That affiliation doesn’t automatically mean that if you’re collaborating with a US researcher you’re engaging in espionage, she says.
As tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated over the past few years, it has come to include research. Two years ago, The China Initiative was announced - with the aim of stopping China from stealing intellectual property and technologies from US companies and research labs.
And until recently, law enforcement agencies have only been taking into custody scientists who failed to declare foreign research money to US funding agencies who also supported them. But as the FBI and DOJ have become better versed [n what they are looking for, the arrests have skyrocketed.
A look at the Department of Justice Information website gives viewera a long list of cases that have been successfully proseceuted. Following are just a few:
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Chinese National Sentenced for Stealing Trade Secrets Worth $1 Billion
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
American Businessman Who Ran Houston-Based Subsidiary of Chinese Company Sentenced To Prison for Theft of Trade Secrets
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Researcher Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Steal Scientific Trade Secrets from Ohio Children’s Hospital to Sell in China
More about China Threat, US Nationals, chinese scholars, Trump administration, Diplomacy
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