Trump vs. China: Administration Halts China Recruitment of US Scientists
Trade talks between the Trump Administration and China have been slowly and painfully grind forward. While China has been anything but cooperative – engaging a myriad of economic barriers to American companies from tariffs to outright bans in retaliation to America’s own moves, the administration is adamant about putting an end to what they purport to be decades of economic abuse by Chinese malpractice as the trade deficit with the country becomes increasingly massive and domestic industry suffers from unfair competition.
But while trade has certainly been the high-profile battle between the two countries, the US administration has also been more quietly dealing substantial damage to China in an area where essentially everyone regardless of politics agrees China is the ‘bad guy,’ technology and IP theft.
Previous administrations have been aware of organized Chinese theft of taxpayer as well as private property but had done little about it aside from the geopolitical equivalent of ‘strongly worded letters.’ But it’s become glaringly apparent this lack of response has further emboldened Chinese actors towards increasingly blatant massed theft. Whether its technological advancements made in the US private realm, or taxpayer funded research within various US departments and agencies, China has been appallingly belligerent in its robberies.
Thankfully, the Trump administration has been active in working to shield US taxpayers and businesses from the growing Chinese espionage and recently made some major moves to safeguard against it down the line. The Wall Street Journal reported just this past Monday,
“The U.S. Energy Department is banning its researchers from joining Chinese talent-recruitment programs after finding personnel were recruited by foreign military-linked programs and lured with multimillion-dollar packages.
The move is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to stave off what it sees as China’s pervasive theft of U.S. science and technology, and it comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to rise.
Trade talks between the U.S. and China foundered last month when the Trump administration accused China of reneging on previously negotiated agreements—an allegation Beijing denies. Both sides have raised tariffs on each other’s goods and drawn each other’s companies into the fray.”
The Energy Department has become a major target for economic espionage, its leaders said, because it is the government’s primary scientific agency, supporting wide-ranging programs from elemental research in physical science up to work enhancing the military’s nuclear arsenal. The ban will apply to more than 100,000 people, mostly contractors, at a network of sites and labs across the country, often researching subjects considered vital to national security, including energy production, artificial intelligence and nuclear physics.
One would “almost have to be willfully blind” to ignore the threat China poses, said Dan Brouillette, U.S. deputy energy secretary, in an interview. “The threat is that they will take technology and research that is paid for by the American taxpayer that in many cases has dual-use applications” in both commerce and defense, he said.”
Someone’s Finally Fighting Back
Secretary Brouillette’s coarse words are well merited.
The Department of Energy had previously found in investigations that foreign talent programs have offered scientists in its national lab system hundreds of thousands of dollars—in some cases millions of dollars—to conduct research. In some instances, Energy Department laboratory personnel have been outright recruited by foreign military-affiliated talent programs.
In May the Trump white house organized a joint committee to address this gaping gap in security that included top brass from the Department of Energy that has been actively taking on the various means of Chinese infiltration into the US Economy. Infiltration that PBP has been tracking for years and is estimated to have cost the US upwards of Trillions in lost economic potential and investment.
Previously China had enjoyed essentially carte blanche in their quest to acquire United States secrets and technologies utilizing a myriad of shady – though cleverly not overtly illegal means to do so. The Department of Energy experience is a classic Chinese move.
China wants US tech; more importantly, they want tech the US has invested heavily in, so they don’t have to. But if one cannot easily acquire the technology (especially legally) what’s the next best thing for ever-pragmatic China? The people who developed the tech!
Thus, their military (among other organizations) has been ‘buying’ US scientists straight from the source with the allure of massive sums of money; after all, China will be saving much more than a few million in bribes down the line on development they don’t have to invest in. Even better for the rising communist superpower, it was all hypothetically legal… until now.
Thankfully the Trump administration has shut the door on this incredibly shady – and apparently endemic – issue with this most recent move to push back against years of Chinese abuse.
One doesn’t have to be a dedicated fan of the often-eccentric President Trump, or even have a favorable opinion of him, to understand this is 100% a positive and necessary move by the administration to not only level the playing field with China, but to ensure the integrity of our national security against them.
Sorry China, no more buying America’s best and brightest. Make your own.