Could China have figured out a way to tap into US funds for their own personal research? A study says that they have.
A bipartisan Senate report has recently come out to show that a Chinese strategy known as TTP or “Thousand Talents Plan” has recruited 7000 researchers to include Nobel laureates. The purpose of this plan brings research from abroad as a way to support technology and military efforts. Additionally, some of the TTP contacts have required participants to recruit for the Chinese program.
A significant amount of alarming information was identified throughout the Senate report. With US-based academics signing side deals, China has been given ownership of various types of research that has been funded by US taxpayer money. This is all part of a major Chinese operation. When American colleges found out what was going on with their researchers, they simply shrugged it off.
The Thousand Talents Plan was launched in 2008 as a way to incentivize individuals who engage in research and development throughout the United States. Knowledge and research gained in the United States are transmitted to China in exchange for money. This means that China has been unfairly using the American research system and their expertise for games within their military and their economy.
By the end of 2017, there were more than 7000 professionals recruited by China. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations created a 100-page report. This was created by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del).
Various Chinese nationals coming to the United States to study or as a way of conducting postdoctoral research at US colleges and institutions apply to the TTP as a way to get on China’s payroll. These individuals are often selected by the Communist Party.
Various TPP contacts have to recruit others, whether those are US citizens or to bring Chinese participants into the United States. According to the Senate report, one contract had a recruitment clause that would require a person to build and train a team of no less than eight post-doctoral students. Another contract was more detailed, stating that the TTP member would receive a list of graduate and doctoral students from which the person would have to recruit 1 to 2 students per year.
This is concerning as it is clear that the Communist Party has access to student databases in order to establish lists of who needs to be recruited to the program. The extensive amount of information that the TTP plan has access to can give China the upper hand. Meanwhile, universities have been aware that researchers and professionals have been recruited without saying anything to the government. They have simply kept their mouths shut and collected the payments as a way to look the other way.
The contracts and the specific language found within them is what is causing the Senate to truly question the intent of the TTP and how concern the United States needs to be. Many contracts state that contracts cannot be canceled unless a Chinese employer consents to it. This means that Chinese officials have a significant amount of leverage over the TTP member. Considering that not all TTP members are Chinese nationals – some are US citizens, this means that the contracts essentially state that China owns various researchers, professors, and others until they have been properly released from their contracts.
With the National Institutes of Health distributing over $31 billion a year to researchers for medical research, China has figured out a way to tap into this. NIH has recently found instances where the TTP members have committed grand fraud in order to access US tax-payer money. The Senate report states that the US academic community is in the “crosshairs” of a foreign nation seeking to steal intellectual property.
The most difficult component is that, in China, civilian and military life are interwoven. This makes it difficult for the United States to detect whether US-sponsored research has directly benefited the Chinese military. According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the United States has essentially funded China’s economic resurgence. He faults colleges and their naivety.
As for what is going to be done about it, a full plan has not been established. However, NIH has a ready been contacting institutions regarding suspect individuals. The goal is to identify which individuals at the various universities are involved with the TTP in order to shut down the flow of information. In the meantime, there’s no telling how much information TTP is accessing and how much its members are committing fraud by accessing taxpayer grants from the United States in order to accomplish their various missions.