The ‘Talented’ Harvard Scholar, Charles Lieber

Why did China recruit the nanotechnology researcher? Answer: Nanochips in the brain.
By Steven W. Mosher
Steven W. Mosher
Steven W. Mosher
Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.” A former National Science Foundation fellow, he studied human biology at Stanford University under famed geneticist Luigi Cavalli-Sforza. He holds advanced degrees in Biological Oceanography, East Asian Studies, and Cultural Anthropology. One of America’s leading China watchers, he was selected in 1979 by the National Science Foundation to be the first American social scientist to do field research in China.
April 9, 2020Updated: April 9, 2020


Professor Charles Lieber’s arrest on Jan. 28 made headlines on all the major U.S. media. After all, he was not only a Harvard professor, he was a world-class researcher in nanotechnology, working on highly sensitive research projects for the U.S. government.

The FBI complaint alleges that he had been secretly participating in China’s “Thousand Talents Plan” since 2011, paid some $600,000 a year plus expenses to open and operate a lab at the Wuhan University of Technology (yes, that Wuhan).

We know that China contracts with American experts in this way in order to steal their research and gain commercial and military advantages over the United States. In fact, over 7,000 U.S. scientists and other experts have been recruited in this way over the past decade, according to a Senate report made public last Nov. 18. But few were as well compensated as Prof. Lieber.

What was it about Prof. Lieber’s research that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was willing to pay millions for? I’ve looked up some of his research in nanotechnology, and was startled by what I found.

To begin with, the two-timing professor was doing cutting edge research in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology—which is science, engineering, and technology conducted at a molecular or even atomic scale—is key to several of the 11 areas identified in the “Made in China 2025” plan to dominate the hi-tech high ground of the future. Robotics, IT, and medical devises, for example, would all clearly benefit from nanotechnology.

But there is more to it than that. Over the past decade and a half, Lieber has been working to develop nanoelectronics-enabled cellular tools in order to record and modulate neuronal activity in the brain. Lieber called his early work in using nanowires to connect neurons “revolutionary.” He suggested that it can be used to record and influence brain activity and “opens the possibility for hybrid circuits that couple the strengths of digital nanoelectronic and biological computing components.”

That is exactly what he went on to do with his new Chinese colleagues from the Wuhan University of Technology over the past decade: integrate electronics in a minimally-invasive manner within the central nervous system. Over the years, they have injected “macroporous electronics” by syringe into chosen regions of the brain. They have proven that these “injectable electronics” can be integrated with the brain and continue to function for at least a year.

In other words, Lieber and the Chinese researchers he was training were implanting microchips in the brains of lab animals to monitor and affect their behavior.

Now all of the research that Prof. Lieber has been involved with has involved rats and mice, not humans. But given the lack of ethical controls on research in Communist China, one wonders if in the nanotechnology lab that he set up, that parallel research is being done on humans there, or soon will be.

Are you beginning to see why the Chinese regime would pay a great deal of money for the privilege of, shall we say, picking Charles Lieber’s brain?

After all, it was the CCP which, back in the 1930s, invented what has become known as “brainwashing.” This is a literal translation of the Chinese term, xi nau, or “wash brain.”

I still recall the anguish in a former political prisoner’s voice as he described being brainwashed by Communist Party officials. “They mess with your mind until you have no opinions whatsoever,” he said ruefully. Once your will to resist has been ground away, reality is defined not by your senses, or by your intellect, but by the Party. You have no opinions either, except those that the Party wants you to have.

In other words, the CCP has long been engaged in a kind of crude kind of mind control, and perhaps saw in Lieber’s work an opportunity to take “brainwashing” to the next level.

We are not yet at the point where a chip can be implanted in someone’s brain to read their thoughts, or affect their behavior. But even the possibility must be tantalizing to a political party bent on total control. It is not hard to imagine even a primitive version of Lieber’s devices serving as a kind of mental taser, capable of lashing people into submission remotely.

Lieber faces up to five years in prison for selling his U.S. taxpayer-funded research to China on the cheap. If convicted, he will have plenty of time to reflect on the consequences of handing over to a one-party dictatorship the ability to invade their very minds.

Steven W. Mosher @StevenWMosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.