U.S. Senate investigators released a report Monday showing that federal agencies were too slow to respond when China recruited U.S. researchers to provide the communist nation with America’s intellectual property.
Reuters reported that the report found that American taxpayers had been unwittingly funding the transfer of intellectual property, which helped China’s economy and military. More from Reuters:
The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released the 105-page report saying China started in the late 1990s to exchange salaries, research funding, laboratory space and other incentives for information from U.S. university laboratories and other research institutions, much of it publicly funded.
As China spent 20 years recruiting researchers with access to advanced science and technology, U.S. agencies failed to adequately respond. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example, did not respond strongly until mid-2018, the report said.
As Reuters reported, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who chairs the subcommittee, would work with Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) to work on legislation that would end China’s “abuse” of U.S. research and taxpayer funds.
“These talent plans are a win-win for China. China wins twice. First, the American taxpayer funds China’s research and development. Second, China uses that research to improve its economic and military status,” Portman said in a statement about the report.
The report showed that China used the U.S. to further its technological advancement quickly. “In one example, the Senate investigators said, a post-doctoral researcher who was part of China’s ‘Thousand Talents Plan’ removed more than 30,000 electronic files, including presentations, technical papers, research and charts from a laboratory before returning to China,” Reuters reported.
The subcommittee that produced the report held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss its findings. John Brown, assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at the FBI, testified at the hearing that the FBI wished it had acted sooner, Reuters reported.
“With our present-day knowledge of the threat from Chinese plans, we wish we had taken more rapid and comprehensive action in the past,” Brown said during his testimony. “The time to make up for that is now.”
China announced its Thousand Talents Plan in 2008, hoping to recruit 2,000 people to help them acquire U.S. intellectual property. The plan eventually recruited more than 7,000 participants by 2017, yet the FBI did not respond strongly enough until 2018.
Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, dismissed concerns about the report by saying the transfer amounted to China and America cooperating and said such cooperation was a benefit to both countries. Geng also said “Cold War mentalities” needed to end.
Geng is also the spokesman who lashed out at The New York Times for covering internal Chinese documents detailing how the country oppresses Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) said during the hearing on Tuesday that she hoped the report was “one of the first steps we take in developing a real national strategy in combating this because clearly China has a strategy, and we need one of our own.”