China defends its science exchange program after US arrest

BEIJING (AP), China Wednesday defended its international scientific and cultural exchange programs following the conviction of a Harvard University professor who was accused of hiding his ties with a Chinese-run recruitment program.

China defends its science exchange program after US arrest

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, stated that China manages these exchanges in the same way as the U.S.A and other countries.

Zhao stated that U.S. officials and agencies should not "stigmatize” such programs but instead "instead do what is conducive to China-U.S. scientific, people-to-people and cooperation."

Charles Lieber (62), former chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, pleaded not guilty in the filing of false tax returns, making false statements and failing to report for a Chinese bank account.

Marc Mukasey was Lieber's defense lawyer. He argued that there wasn't enough evidence to support the charges and maintained that investigators had no records of interviews with Lieber before his arrest.

Prosecutors claimed Lieber was aware of his participation in China's Thousand Talents Plan and concealed it to protect his career. The Chinese program was created to find people who have knowledge about foreign technology and intellectual properties that could be used to pass on secrets to China.

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Lieber denied involvement in inquiries by U.S authorities, including the National Institutes of Health which provided him with millions of dollar in research funding, prosecutors stated.

Prosecutors also found that Lieber concealed income from the Chinese program, which included $50,000 per month from Wuhan University of Technology and $158,000 for living expenses and grants totaling more than $1.5 Million.

They agreed that Lieber would publish articles, organize international conferences, and file patent applications on behalf of the Chinese university in exchange.

This case is one of the most prominent to be brought up by the U.S. Department of Justice's China Initiative.

This effort was launched in 2018 to stop economic espionage by China. It has been criticised for causing harm to academic research and racial profiling Chinese researchers.

Many faculty members from Stanford, Yale and Princeton signed letters to U.S. attorney General Merrick Garland requesting that he end the initiative.

Academics claim the efforts have hampered the nation's technological and research competitiveness and had a chilling effect in recruiting foreign scholars. These letters complain that the investigations have unfairly targeted Chinese-born researchers.

Lieber was taken off paid administrative leave by Harvard after being arrested in January 2020.

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