U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Monday that President Donald Trump is evaluating measures to prevent intellectual property theft by Chinese nationals and students that could be rolled out over the coming weeks and months.
The Trump administration is aware that “the Chinese Communist Party has stolen hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property and with that tens and hundreds of thousands of American jobs, … either by taking it through cyber means or, … by their people actively working inside of our places of research,” Pompeo said in an interview with the hosts of WMAL’s Morning On The Mall Radio Show.
For decades, prior administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have turned a blind eye to these practices, Pompeo said. “No administration has taken this seriously until these last couple years when President Trump began to demand that we get this right.”
When asked by a host about the possibility of prohibiting entry to the United States for all students and researchers from China for a certain number of years, Pompeo reminded them that not every Chinese student in America is spying for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
But he said it is “absolutely the case” that Chinese students are being subject to regular surveillance by the CCP to make sure “they’re engaged in behavior that’s consistent with what the Chinese Communist Party wants them to do.”
But they cannot be considered spies “in the most formal sense,” he explained.
He added that the Trump administration is aware that many Chinese students who visit the United States or their families come under enormous pressure from the Chinese regime back home.
However, he said that Trump is “determined to stop this.”
“For the first time in decades, you have an administration that is taking this threat from the Chinese Communist Party seriously.”
The CCP has used various methods to infiltrate American universities and research institutions—the most prominent being its overseas Thousand Talents program that recruits international experts in a bid to acquire proprietary information and advanced technology.
The Chinese regime uses these stolen technologies and know-how to produce subsidized products to sell as competitors back in the United States, Pompeo said.
Products like Artificial Intelligence machine learning software or companies like a TikTok are examples of intellectual property theft by the CCP, he added.
The FBI, the Justice Department, and the State Department have joined efforts to combat such illicit activities and work toward the goal of establishing, “for the first time, a reasonable, a reciprocal trade arrangement with China,” Pompeo said.
On Friday, a researcher at the University of Virginia, Hu Haizhou, was arrested and charged with theft of trade secrets and computer intrusion. This came days after he was caught at a Chicago airport trying to transport back to China advanced computer codes that he allegedly stole from the university, prosecutors said.
Earlier this year, the former chair of Harvard University’s chemistry department, Charles Lieber, was indicted on charges related to making false statements about his participation in the Thousand Talents program and receiving $2.25 million in funding from China over three years.
While participation in Chinese talent programs isn’t in itself illegal, researchers are required to disclose foreign funding when applying for federal grants.
The Houston Chinese consulate’s ongoing work targeting local scientists for recruitment to China’s talent program was a reason for the U. S. authorities ordering the consulate’s closure by in July.
Eva Fu and Cathy He contributed to this report.