DOJ Says Profs Improperly Took Chinese Funds

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The Justice Department accused a professor in Arkansas of improperly accepting funds from the Chinese government and accepted a guilty plea in a similar case, the latest examples of an effort to combat China’s influence in American academia, the New York Times reports. One professor, Simon Ang of the University of Arkansas, was arrested Friday on wire fraud charges. He received funding from Chinese companies and from the Thousand Talents program, which awards grants to scientists to encourage relationships with the Chinese government. He kept the financial arrangements secret, allowing him to secure other grants from U.S. agencies, including NASA, that the Chinese funding made him ineligible for.

Xiao-Jiang Li, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, pleaded guilty on Friday to a felony charge of filing a false tax return that omitted about $500,000 that he received from the Thousand Talents program. He was put on probation for a year and ordered to pay $35,089 in restitution. The Justice Department’s efforts to limit Chinese influence at American universities are part of the Trump administration’s hard line on China. “The Department of Justice remains vigilant over programs such as the Thousand Talents program that recruits professors and researchers to work for China,” said John Demers, the head of DOJ’s national security division. DOJ also has charged Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard’s chemistry department, with lying about his financial ties to the Chinese government and failing to disclose his participation in the Thousand Talents program.

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