While speaking at the University of Michigan, FBI director Christopher Wray fully defended the Department of Justice’s decision to investigate and prosecute academics of Chinese origin, NBC News reports.
The Justice Department has been investigating Chinese people working in American industries since the Obama administration, believing that Chinese spy agencies were pushing them to steal trade secrets. They specifically began investigating Chinese scientists and researchers under the Trump administration’s China initiative.
Several professors like Xiaoxing Xi and Franklin Tao were falsely accused of being spies under the initiative, which was ended by the Biden administration. Ann Chih Lin, director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, brought up those false accusations during Wray’s talk.
According to NBC News, she asked how he would respond to critics who believe that the FBI is “presuming that routine academic engagement with scientific colleagues in China is evidence of a crime, or of mistaking university-sponsored collaborations and grants for money that is illicitly going into scientists’ pockets.”
Wray claimed that the FBI does not base their cases on race or ethnicity but told the audience he believed there was no “more serious, more persistent threat to our innovation, our ideas and our economic security than the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government.”
“The Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, is engaged in what it considers an international talent war to try to leverage and steal intellectual property and sensitive research and data from countries all over the world,” he added, according to NBC News. “… And so it’s part of our responsibility to work with universities to try to help protect that information.”
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