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NIH has identified over 500 ‘scientists of concern’ amid Chinese espionage concerns, says agency official

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A high-ranking National Institutes of Health (NIH) official said the federal agency has identified over 500 “scientists of concern” within federally funded academic institutions and research programs, The Washington Examiner reported Friday. This comes as the U.S. government tries to combat coordinated foreign influence efforts, including Chinese economic espionage.

The NIH deputy director for extramural research, Dr. Michael Lauer, disclosed this information on Thursday during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing looking at safeguarding U.S. biomedical research, with undue foreign influence being a top concern.

“I think one big problem, senators, is that the threat is significant. […] We have identified over 500 scientists of concern. […] Each of these require a tremendous amount of work to figure out what exactly has been happening and to work carefully with the institution to figure out what’s going on,” Lauer said.

“As of April 2021, we have contacted more than 90 awardee institutions regarding concerns involving over 200 scientists,” he added.

Lauer also said, “We’ve seen scientists who have told their American institutions and the NIH that they’re spending 100% of their time in the U.S., when, in fact, they’re spending 50% to 60% of their time in China — so they’re lying about how they’re spending their time, and that kind of blatant lie affects the credibility and the integrity of the entire enterprise.”

“There have been over a hundred scientists who have been removed from the NIH ecosystem,” Lauer went on to say, mentioning that there have been “34 or so” referrals to the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General.

“Unfortunately, a few governments have initiated systematic programs to exploit the collaborative nature of biomedical research and unduly influence U.S.‐supported researchers,” Lauer said, pointing to NIH’s three major areas of concern.

“First is the failure by some researchers at NIH‐funded institutions to disclose substantial contributions of resources from other organizations, including foreign governments and businesses,” he explained. “Second is diversion of proprietary information included in grant applications or produced by NIH‐supported biomedical research to other entities, including other countries. And third, failure by some peer reviewers to keep information in grant applications confidential, including, in some instances, disclosure to foreign entities or other attempts to influence funding decisions.”

For more details on this story, read the original report by The Washington Examiner here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Electric Vehicle company with Chinese ties awarded $500 million of taxpayer money for 2nd U.S. plant

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With a little help from their Democrat friends, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party just announced the opening of its second plant in the United States.

Fox News reports Gotion Inc., whose parent company Gotion High-Tech is based in Hefei, China, unveiled plans to build a $2 billion lithium battery plant in Manteno, Illinois, alongside Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who cheered the project.

The announcement comes amid growing opposition to the company’s plans to build a billion-dollar factory in Mecosta County, Michigan.

In order to make the expansion happen, lobbyists for the Chinese Communist Party-tied electric vehicle company funneled cash to Democrats. “Individuals at a law firm registered as foreign agents to lobby on behalf of Gotion, a Chinese electric vehicle battery company developing a controversial project in Michigan, and wired campaign contributions to several top Democrats” reports Fox News.

“According to state and federal filings, Monique Field-Foster, an attorney at the Lansing office of the Warner Norcross + Judd law firm who is acting as a foreign agent on behalf of Gotion, donated to the campaigns of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Whitmer’s sister Liz Gereghty and Michigan Democratic Senate hopeful Rep. Elissa Slotkin” the Fox News report continued.

“In partnership with the business community and the General Assembly, two years ago we set out to make Illinois a destination for electric vehicle and clean energy companies from across the globe,” Pritzker said in a statement.

“With the right incentives, nation-leading infrastructure, world-class workforce and booming clean energy production, we have transformed ourselves into an attractive location for global manufacturers. Today, we take another leap forward. It’s my pleasure to welcome Gotion to Illinois and to show the world yet again that Illinois is ready to be a player on the world stage.”

Pritzker delivered remarks late last week thanking Gotion for choosing Illinois to call “home” in a ceremony with leaders from Gotion High-Tech, including Li Zhen, the company’s chairman and president, who said he expected the factory to open in less than 12 months.

“All that we see here [in Illinois] are of enormous value to us: an enabling business environment, a supportive state government for the new energy industry and their highly efficient work, as well as the prospects of the State of Illinois in the coming years,” the Gotion president added. “We believe that Gotion’s battery technology will help to boost e-mobility in North America and the economic and trade exchanges between China and the U.S.”

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