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GOP lawmakers demand DOJ explain why it dropped charges against suspected Chinese spies in the US

Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C. in July 2012. (Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons)
September 28, 2021

A pair of Republican lawmakers are demanding answers this week as to why the Department of Justice dropped a series of Trump-era cases against as many as six alleged Chinese spies in July.

On Monday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling on him to explain why the DOJ said it was “in the interest of justice” to drop the charges against six alleged Chinese spies. That line of questioning follows a July decision by federal prosecutors to drop charges against six Chinese researchers who stood accused of concealing their ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“It is not clear whether the Department dismissed these changes due to reported misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or because the Department under your leadership is more invested in pursuing the far-left political goals of the Biden-Harris Administration than in protecting American national security interests,” Jordan and Biggs’ letter reads. “These actions by the Department raise serious concerns about its commitment to confronting the national security threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

The Republican lawmakers went on to credit Trump with seeking to deter Chinese espionage practices.

“In November 2018, the Trump Administration launched the China Initiative to address some of the most critical threats to national security posed by the Chinese regime,” Jordan and Biggs wrote. “The Trump Administration’s China Initiative sought to identify and prosecute Chinese trade secret theft and economic espionage and to protect American critical infrastructure and supply chains from covert influence.”

The cases cited by Jordan and Biggs included alleged Chinese spies Tang Juan, Xin Wang, Chen Song, Kaikai Zhao, Anming Hu and Guan Lei. All six were charged under the Trump-era China Initiative. The DOJ, under the current Biden administration, has moved to drop at least five of those cases, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Jordan and Biggs also asked if the DOJ under Biden supports the Trump Administration’s China Initiative and whether it agrees with FBI Director Chris Wray’s statement that “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.”

Jordan and Biggs also asked Garland whether Deputy Secretary of the State Wendy Sherman’s first trip to China since assuming office had been a factor in the DOJ’s decision to drop the six Trump-era China spying cases.

The two Republican lawmakers also asked whether immigration forms need to be more clear in how they ask about an individual’s connections to a foreign military. They also asked Garland how many China-related counter-intelligence cases the FBI is actively pursuing and the number of DOJ attorneys and support staff that remain assigned to the Trump-era China Initiative.