A new report has cast fresh light on how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is hiring top U.S. scientists and research experts to help advance its military technology.
Published by strategic intelligence firm Strider Technologies, the comprehensive report delves into how the CCP has been undermining U.S. national security via a “systematic effort” to recruit leading experts from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) — a top research facility located in New Mexico.
MORE ON ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE AND TRADE THEFT:
- Chinese Scientist Pleads Guilty to Stealing Trade Secrets From GlaxoSmithKline
- As Scrutiny Increases, China Masks its ‘Thousand Talents Plan’
- Chinese Spy Caught and Convicted for Plotting to Steal US Aviation Trade Secrets
- Harvard Prof. Charles Lieber Convicted of Lying About China Ties, Receiving Millions in Funding
- DOJ Terminates ‘China Initiative’ Targeting Beijing’s Economic Espionage
LANL has been credited as a key defense facility and research institution in the country, and is also where nuclear weapons were first developed. Scientists at LANL are regarded as leading experts in the fields of national security, space exploration, nuclear fusion, nanotechnology, and supercomputing.
Though much of the research developed at Los Alamos is of a classified nature, it is known that scientists employed at the lab are leading experts in their fields and are devoted to developing innovative scientific and engineering programs to work in conjunction with U.S. national security.
According to the report, more than 150 scientists were lured to work in China to develop technologies such as deep-earth-penetrating warheads, hypersonic missiles, stealth submarines and drones.
The job offers came with handsome compensation packages. Scientists were paid as much as $1 million through participation in the Chinese government’s recruitment channels under the guise of “talent programs” — which are designed to recruit foreign scientists to work and live in mainland China.
Such talent programs have long been identified as a source of concern for national security, but U.S. officials said they had not previously seen an “unclassified report that described the phenomenon in such detail,” including the name of specific scientists and the projects they have worked on.
In 2019, a bipartisan Senate report found that China’s “Thousand Talents Program” and other similar recruiting arrangements were a vector through which the CCP was able to exploit and gather intel on U.S. research and technology.
Recruitment via talent programs
The Thousand Talents Program (TTP) is one of many talent recruitment programs the Chinese regime has maintained for decades in an effort to attract overseas Chinese and foreign experts and recruit them to work for China’s science and tech sectors. Through these programs, Beijing has hopes to quickly transform China into an industrial and innovation powerhouse and ultimately outperform Western countries.
“Through talent recruitment programs like the Thousand Talents, China pays scientists at American universities to secretly bring our knowledge and innovation back to China — including valuable, federally funded research,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in 2020.
“To put it bluntly, this means American taxpayers are effectively footing the bill for China’s own technological development,” Wray added.
Termination of the ‘China Initiative’
Strider’s report has also brought renewed concerns over the continued theft of U.S. trade secrets, technologies and patented innovations at the hands of Chinese spies. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would be ending its “China Initiative” program.
Founded in 2018 under former President Donald Trump’s administration, the initiative aimed to root out suspected Chinese economic espionage, trade theft and technology transfer. The intent of the initiative was to prevent China’s intelligence apparatus from stealing U.S. technology — specifically from research and academic institutions.
However, after the DOJ received complaints that the program was “unfairly profiling” and targeting people of Asian backgrounds, it decided to pull the plug on it.
The Chinese regime’s efforts to poach leading experts in order to advance its own technologies “pose a direct threat to U.S. national security,” Greg Levesque, a co-founder of Strider and the lead author of the report wrote. “China is playing a game that we are not prepared for, and we need to really begin to mobilize,” Levesque said in reference to China’s recruitment of LANL scientists.
LANL has declined to address the report’s findings, referring questions to New Mexico’s Energy Department instead.