Chinese Researcher Gets Time Served for Lying About Taking Research Materials From Harvard

Chinese Researcher Gets Time Served for Lying About Taking Research Materials From Harvard
An emergency room nurse walks through the Clinical Decision Unit at the newly-opened Berenson Emergency Department at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston on July 16, 2001. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

A Chinese medical researcher flew back to China after he was sentenced to the time he spent in U.S. custody.

Zheng Zaosong, 31, came to the United States on a J-1 visa in August 2018 and conducted cancer cell research at Harvard University’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was arrested on Dec. 10, 2019 at Boston’s Logan International Airport, where he was found with 21 vials containing biological materials in his luggage. He lied and answered “no” when asked by federal officers whether he was traveling with any biological items.
In December last year, he pleaded guilty to one count of making false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to federal investigators. He admitted that he intended to use those vials to conduct research at his laboratory in China’s Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital and then publish findings under his own name.

As part of Zheng’s plea deal, U.S. prosecutors dropped a smuggling charge against him.

On Dec. 6, Zheng was sentenced to the time (about 87 days) he had spent in custody following his arrest, according to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

His lawyer Norman Zalkind confirmed in an email to The Epoch Times that his client flew back to China Wednesday night.

Efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property to benefit Beijing have been a major concern for U.S. officials in recent years. In October 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned U.S. universities to be aware of China’s attempts to steal trade secrets via the researchers it recruited.
In November last year, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced a bill (H.R.8777) aimed at reforming the student visa application process to stop China’s theft.
Several U.S.-based researchers have also been prosecuted in criminal cases for attempting to steal or stealing trade secrets to benefit China.
Most recently, in December last year, Yu Zhou pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets from the Ohio-based Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he and his wife Chen Li worked for 10 years, according to the DOJ. His wife pleaded guilty in July 2020.
Together, the couple founded a biotech firm in China that sold products, including “a kit that was developed from a trade secret created at a Nationwide Children’s research lab,” prosecutors said.

Zheng’s employer in China, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The hospital, an affiliated medical center of Sun Yat-Sen University located in southern China’s Guangzhou city, has several Party branches and a Party committee.

The Chinese regime mandates any organization, including foreign companies, with at least three CCP members to form a Party branch.
According to the hospital’s website, officials from the university’s Party committee held a hospital staff meeting in May 2018. Wang Jingfeng, the party secretary of the hospital’s Party committee, said the facility was “proactively perfecting its party organizations” and had projects to “inspire grassroots Party building.”
In July 2019, the hospital’s website reported that Hu Hai, party secretary of the oncology department’s Party branch, led its members on a tour of a local Chinese military memorial to enhance their “Party nature.”

The above-mentioned hospital webpages have since been removed.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.