Justice Department arrests professors accused of hiding connections to Chinese government

The Trump administration has focused renewed criticism on China’s communist regime in recent weeks amid new revelations about the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is pursuing individuals believed to have ties to the Chinese government, including a professor of molecular genetics arrested earlier this week.

“False claims and wire fraud”

A statement from the agency identified Dr. Qing Wang as a former employee of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation who “is charged with false claims and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in grant funding that Dr. Wang and his research group received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

The Justice Department goes on to allege that Wang “knowingly failed to disclose to NIH that he had an affiliation with and held the position of Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and received grant funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (CNSF) for some of the same scientific research funded by the NIH grant.”

Wang reportedly became a U.S. citizen in 2005 and secured a research position with the Cleveland Clinic eight years earlier.

According to the statement, he was also “in the Thousand Talents Program, a program established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property.”

His was not the only recent arrest of a professor believed to be in the Thousand Talents Program.

“Maximum punishment of 20 years in prison”

In a prior statement, the Justice Department revealed that University of Arkansas professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang had been arrested on May 8 on suspicion of wire fraud. Federal authorities allege he concealed his ties to the Chinese regime in an effort to secure funding from the university and NASA.

While presumed innocent, the Justice Department noted that “Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison” if convicted.

President Donald Trump revealed in an interview this week that he would be willing to “cut off the whole relationship” between the U.S. and China as tensions between the two nations escalate.

In 2018, the Justice Department unveiled its China Initiative, which it said “reflects the strategic priority of countering Chinese national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy.”

That mission appears to be translating into action, as the arrests this month show. With renewed scrutiny of China over its possible role in the coronavirus’s global spread, it is clear that authorities in the U.S. are determined to root out possible security threats at home.

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