Monday, September 27, 2021

Spies and scientists?

Distinguished US Professors Participated in Controversial Chinese Recruitment Plan: Leaked Documents

September 25, 2021 Updated: September 26, 2021

Several prominent professors at American colleges have participated in China’s talent acquisition program, according to leaked documents from a Chinese regional authority. The professors worked with the Thousand Talents Program (TTP), a controversial state-backed recruitment plan criticized by U.S. officials for its role in transferring Western research and technology to China.

Two of the professors work at Carnegie Melon University, and another at University of California, Berkeley. All three are experts in biomedical research and development. Their names will not be included in this report.

The leaked documents, obtained from multiple municipal government agencies in Xi’an city of central China’s Shaanxi province, further listed names of other recruited experts from abroad, funding details, and objectives for the local TTP.

Chinese talent programs, including the TTP, have recruited thousands of experts from around the world since 2008, when the program was introduced by Beijing. The plans offer up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives for overseas professionals to research and work in China for a period of time each year. Xi’an’s program specifically targets biomedical engineering experts, while others programs have focused on other technological fields including advanced manufacturing, aerospace engineering, and new materials.

These state-run programs have drawn intensifying scrutiny in recent years amid growing alarm among U.S. officials that the plans could facilitate the flow of American intellectual property and know-how to China. A raft of American and Chinese researchers have also been prosecuted in the United States for allegedly hiding their links to such programs while receiving federal grant money.

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