Biden DOJ Ends Successful Trump-Era China Initiative Over Discrimination Concerns


While affirming that the threat of espionage from China is vast, the Biden administration has closed down the Justice Department’s successful China Initiative to avoid even a hint of discrimination that might tarnish its image.

“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 in a 2020 statement on the DOJ website. “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.”

But Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for national security, said the program attracted criticism from Asian-Americans because it fueled discrimination, according to CNN.

“Anything that creates the impression that the Department of Justice applies different standards based on race or ethnicity harms the department and our efforts, and it harms the public,” Olsen said Wednesday.

“I do believe that the China Initiative was driven by genuine national security concerns. But I’m also mindful that the department must maintain the trust of the people whom we serve,” he said.

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The China Initiative began in 2018. The Justice Department says the initiative has won some major victories. However, prosecutions related to grant fraud were less successful than other parts of the program and were a lightning rod for complaints.

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Most grant fraud investigations “failed to uncover espionage, and the government instead fell back on paperwork mistakes to bring charges,” Ben Suarato, a spokesman for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said recently, according to The New York Times. “There are real national security concerns. We’re just saying that the China Initiative was the wrong way to address them.”

But the problem remains.

The FBI has more than 2,000 open investigations into Chinese efforts to steal American information and technology, Wray said recently.

“There is just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, our innovation and our economic security than China,” he said.

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Some said ending the program was another American defeat on the world stage.

In fact, the 2021 page on the DOJ website said, “About 80 percent of all economic espionage prosecutions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) allege conduct that would benefit the Chinese state, and there is at least some nexus to China in around 60 percent of all trade secret theft cases.”

In the 2020 statement released by the DOJ, during the Trump administration, the Department noted “the PRC has used talent programs to encourage the transfer of technical expertise from the United States, and elsewhere in the world, to benefit the PRC’s economic and military development. Talent recruits generally sign contracts with the PRC sponsor-entity that obligate them to produce scientific outputs; to publish the results of their work in the name of the PRC beneficiary; to allow the PRC beneficiary to assert intellectual property rights over their outputs and to recruit other researchers into the programs.”

“While membership in these talent programs is not per se illegal, and the research itself may not always be protected as a trade secret, we know the PRC uses these plans, such as the well-known Thousand Talents Program, as a vehicle to recruit individuals with access to U.S. government-funded research to work in the interest of the Chinese Communist Party,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division Adam S. Hickey said then.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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