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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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Chinese Spy Balloon: Tensions rise between the U.S. and China

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A strange object was spotted Wednesday over Billings Montana. The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the strange object was, in fact, a Chinese spy balloon. According to a report from KPAX, a western Montana news outlet, the balloon had been on the governments radar for days.

On Friday, the Chinese government released a statement saying that the balloon spotted in Billings is a “civilian airship” that’s sole purpose is used to collect research on weather and that it had just blown off course. The balloon was not shot down by orders of the Pentagon due to the risk of falling debris injuring people on the ground.

Sara Carter, who has spoken frequently on the Chinese government’s threat and expansion to the West, stated on Twitter that the United States has failed to stop China from purchasing land near military installations, vital agricultural land, as well as, allowing Chinese linked companies, such as Huawei, to install technology in cellular towers. Those cellular towers are located in Montana, along side more than 150 ICBM nuclear silos.

China said, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.” Majeure meaning that it was out of there control. It blew off course due to limited “self-steering” capabilities according the Ministry. The ministry also stated that the balloon, “deviated far from its planned course.”

This incident is adding fuel to the fire of what is already a tense relationship between the worlds two largest economies. China already lays claim to approximately 80% of the South China Sea, and is seeking full control over Taiwan after assuming full control of Hong Kong. China’s belt and road initiative has invested copious amounts of money into building infrastructure in other countries and uses it as economic blackmail. China’s transportation of fentanyl into Mexico is yet again another example of how they are seeking to damage the US.

Is this just a weather ballon that blew off course? US officials at the White House seem to be unconvinced and will continue to monitor the balloon, as reported.

UPDATED: Statement from the Pentagon was jaw dropping when a reporter asked if the public has a right to know about Beijing’s balloon.

“The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is,” a DOD official responded.

 

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