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Lieutenant in Chinese army, Harvard University professor and researcher all accused of hiding ties with China

Harvard University - Cambridge, MA (Shelby L. Bell/Flickr)

The Department of Justice announced cases against three individuals Tuesday they said were concealing ties to the Peoples Republic of China while conducting research in Massachusetts.

Harvard University’s Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Dr. Charles Lieber was arrested Tuesday, charged with making false statements after authorities say he failed to disclose and lied about ties to a Chinese government-run program setup to entice scientists and researchers in the U.S .to share their expertise and research with China.

In a separate case, the DOJ said Yanqing Ye, a lieutenant in the Peoples Liberation Army had gained a non-immigrant visa to conduct studies at Boston University.

United States Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a press conference at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse Tuesday that Ye was working as an unregistered agent of the Peoples Republic of China and concealed her military connections while working as a researcher.

“A colonel in the Peoples Republic of China gave Ye numerous assignments while she was in the United States, such as assessing U.S. military websites,” Lelling said. “She lied about her involvement with Chinese military projects.”

A third person, Zaosong Zheng, a 29-year-old Chinese citizen, was charged with attempting to smuggle out of the country biological materials in a sock.

“This is not an accident or coincidence,” Lelling said. “This is a small sample of China’s ongoing campaign” to siphon off U.S. technology and research.

Officials would not say if the three cases were connected other than involving attempts by China to conduct “a massive, long-term campaign to steal U.S. technology.”

In Lieber’s case, officials say the Harvard professor was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to share research with China.

Unlike the U.S., where private companies are not required to share research and information with the government, officials said in China sharing with Chinese entities does not carry the same relationship.

“That research and expertise is now at the disposal of the Chinese government,” Lelling said.


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