The Justice Department has ended its China Initiative. This was a program that Asian American groups claimed contributed towards bias against Chinese immigrants and Americans with Chinese descent. It led to some high-profile prosecution failures.
It was launched under the Trump administration. It was intended to identify and prosecute Chinese threats national security. However, it also led criminal charges against academics and researchers that eventually collapsed.
"Do not make a mistake. Matt Olsen (the assistant attorney general in charge the national security division) stated that the United States will not be complacent in protecting its country from China. He said that a new approach was needed to combat the most serious threats from hostile nation-states.
Olsen stated that a three-month evaluation, which included discussions with the FBI, other intelligence agencies, and universities, led him to conclude that the initiative was too narrowly targeted. Representatives of the Asian-American, Pacific Islander and Pacific Islander communities claimed that the program led to an increase in bias against them.
He stated that he had contributed to the negative perception that the department applied a lower standard of investigation and prosecution for criminal conduct related to China or that people with racial or ethnic ties to China were treated differently.
Olsen stated that his division is looking into threats from all countries, not just China but also Russia and Iran, which seek to steal U.S. technological innovations and government secrets.
China Initiative resulted in a number of prosecutions of academics and researchers, who were accused of failing to disclose China-related transactions when they submitted grant applications.
Last month, prosecutors dropped all charges against Gang Chen, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist.
Chen wrote, "For 371 Days, my family, and I went through an living hell," in an essay published on The Boston Globe. He was referring to how long he had been held without trial.
Chen released a statement saying that while I feel relieved that my ordeal is over I am aware that the China Initiative, which was terribly misguided, continues to cause unwarranted fear to academic communities and scientists who still face charges."
Qing Wang, a two-decade veteran of the Cleveland Clinic, was also in the spotlight. He was leading a research program into genetic causes of heart disease. This project was funded by federal grants totaling more than $3.6million from the National Institutes of Health.
He was accused of not disclosing that he was part the "Thousand Talents", was dean at a Chinese university and that nearly half a million dollars was in Chinese government grants for research that overlapped his U.S.-funded work.
The charges were dropped by the prosecution, but Wang is currently in Shanghai looking for work.
He told NBC News last summer that "they are creating such a fear within the scientific community." "I am pretty certain that many people will return to China. They are actually doing a favor for the Chinese government.
Olsen stated that one of his concerns during his review was that "we've undermined our ability for the best and brightest to come here to study, research, and teach." This is also a national security priority.
Christopher Wray, FBI Director, has been one of the most vocal critics of China's spying . According to Wray, the FBI currently has over 2,000 counterintelligence cases in progress and is currently launching two counterintelligence investigations per day.
Wray stated that China poses a greater threat to our innovation and ideas than any other country.
Olsen stated that he agrees with Wray's assessment of China's spying activities, but added that other countries pose different threats to U.S. security.