A Chinese-American researcher has pleaded guilty in a case involving theft of a U.S. company’s drug secrets and to selling the same to certain people from China. This is yet another incident highlighting how Beijing is working against American interests.
Caught in the act
The accused, Yu Xue, was a senior manager at GlaxoSmithKline’s Philadelphia facility. Aged 48 years, Xue is considered one of the leading minds in the field of protein biochemistry. Prior to becoming the senior manager, she had worked at the company’s research facility for nearly a decade.
Once charges of theft were brought against Xue, she was immediately removed from her post in 2016. Xue has been accused of downloading sensitive company information, including research reports that dealt with cancer drugs, and emailing information to China.
However, Xue claims that she had only sent information of her own patent application to others and that she had no idea that such information would be considered trade secrets.
“A trade secret to me is not publicly available. The patents I sent to them is publicly available,” Chicago Tribune quotes Xue. However, Judge Joel Slomsky seemed not to believe her. He said that the prosecutors had proven that Xue knew she was sharing confidential company information with others and that it was enough to prove her guilt.
The judge has set the sentencing hearing for December 18, 2018. In addition to Xue, another Chinese origin research scientist at the company, Tao Li, has also been charged with the theft of company information.
China’s theft of U.S. knowledge
American intelligence agencies have long been looking into the Chinese government’s involvement in the theft of American intellectual property (IP) and knowledge. According to estimates, China’s theft of trade secrets and other such intellectual properties cause a net loss of up to US$600 billion per year for the U.S.
“The massive theft of American IP threatens our nation’s security as well as vitality,” Science quotes former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair.
China has been known to lure Chinese-origin people working in the U.S. to share sensitive information about American companies. The Chinese government’s tactics are pretty simple — find a Chinese origin person in the U.S. who is working in a high-tech field, brainwash them with Chinese nationalism, offer monetary benefits and attractive positions at top Chinese institutions, and finally induce them to steal trade secrets from the company they are working for.
Unfortunately, several Chinese-Americans fall into the trap laid out by Beijing and get involved in illegal activities that betray the United States. As a consequence, the previous Obama administration had started an intense crackdown of U.S.-based Chinese scientists who were suspected of information theft.
“Their [China’s] efforts to penetrate American society in this respect and obtain technologies, there’s numerous different ways in which they do it. There are 300,000 Chinese students in the United States, and pretty much all of them are taking a hard science, a STEM discipline — science, technology, engineering, or math,” The Epoch Times quotes U.S. Naval Intelligence officer John Jordan, who spoke on how the Chinese intelligence agencies were planning to leak high-tech knowledge from America.
Even the current trade war between the U.S. and China was largely triggered after President Trump decided that his country needed to take concrete steps to stop the Chinese from stealing U.S. company secrets and profiting from them. Whether the Chinese government will accede to U.S. demands and stop their illegal activities remains to be seen, but what is clear is that President Trump’s trade war is the only way to protect American companies from Chinese thieves.