Six people connected to the Chinese Communist Party’s military were found to have lied on their visa applications to study at universities in the United States by concealing their affiliation with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
A review of the Justice Department’s China Initiative revealed a number of successful attempts to disrupt and deter a wide range of national security threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government.
“In the last year, the Department has made incredible strides in countering the systemic efforts by the PRC to enhance its economic and military strength at America’s expense,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “While much work remains to be done, the Department is committed to holding to account those who would steal, or otherwise illicitly obtain, the U.S. intellectual capital that will propel the future.”
A half-dozen members of the People’s Liberation Army were charged for hiding their affiliation to China’s military, as well as allegedly committing visa fraud while operating as students or researchers a universities in the United States.
“This year, the FBI and Department prosecutors also exposed six individuals, studying in the United States, found to be connected to People’s Liberation Army military institutes, who concealed their affiliations from the State Department when applying for research visas to study at U.S. universities,” the Justice Department said. “In one of those cases, the Department alleged that a PLA officer was being tasked by superiors in the PRC to obtain information that would benefit PLA operations. In another case, a PLA medical researcher stands accused of following orders to observe lab operations at a U.S. university, which received funding from the U.S. government, in order to replicate those operations in the PRC.”
Following interviews conducted by the FBI, the State Department closed the PRC’s Houston Consulate and many undeclared, PLA-affiliated Chinese researchers fled the U.S.
Over the last year, the Justice Department said it charged three cases of economic espionage in which trade secret theft was meant to benefit the Chinese government.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s theft of sensitive information and technology isn’t a rumor or a baseless accusation. It’s very real, and it’s part of a coordinated campaign by the Chinese government, which the China Initiative is helping to disrupt,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI opens a new China-related counterintelligence case nearly every 10 hours and we’ll continue our aggressive efforts to counter China’s criminal activity.”
In July, Wray said the FBI had over 2,000 active investigations linked to the Chinese government, representing a 1,300 percent increase from 10 years ago.