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Researcher Pleads Guilty To Selling OH Hospital ‘Trade Secrets’ To China’s Gov.

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Li Chen pleaded guilty Thursday before a U.S. District Court to a conspiracy to steal information from a children’s hospital in Ohio and sell it to China, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Chen, who was a respected and trusted researcher at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute in Columbus, admitted to stealing and selling exosomes and exosome isolation from the facility.

“Once again we see the People’s Republic of China (PRC) facilitating the theft of our nation’s ingenuity and hard work as part of their quest to rob, replicate and replace any product they don’t have the ability to develop themselves,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. 

Chen said she established a company in China to sell the exomes that play key roles in treating medical conditions common in premature babies and patients with liver issues, the DOJ said. Ultimately, Chen sold the information to the Chinese government and was rewarded by China’s State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to the DOJ.

Demers added, “Far from being an isolated incident, we see the PRC implicated in around 60 percent of all trade secret theft cases.  This continued economic belligerence runs contrary to the values and norms that facilitate the success of our industries and countering it remains among our highest priorities.”

Chen’s husband, Yu Zhou, 49, was also roped into the scheme, working in the same research center. The couple was arrested in July 2019, the DOJ press release stated. Together, the couple stole “at least five trade secrets,” according to the Justice Department.

Chen agreed as part of her plea agreement to relinquish over $1 million, 500,000 stock shares of Avalon GloboCare Corp., and 400 shares of stock in GenExosome Technologies Inc., DOJ said.

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Analysis: Biden unlikely to sanction Iran’s oil exports, gas prices ‘critical during an election year’

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Analysts say President Joe Biden is unlikely to “prompt dramatic sanctions action on Iran’s oil exports” due to “worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer China” according to Reuters.

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, House Republican Representative Steve Scalise, said the administration had made it easier for Iran to sell its oil, generating revenues that were being used to “go fund terrorist activity.”

The Biden administration has maintained for months that among its primary goals is to keep the Gaza conflict between terror group Hamas and Israel from turning into a wider regional war. However, House Republican leaders accused President Joe Biden of failing to enforce existing measures and said they would take up this week a series of bills to sharpen sanctions on Iran.

Kimberly Donovan, a sanctions and anti-money laundering expert at the Atlantic Council, said that oil-related sanctions have not been strictly enforced in the past couple of years.

“I would not expect the administration to tighten enforcement in response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks against Israel over the weekend, mainly for concerns (that) could lead to increases in oil prices,” she said.

“The price of oil and ultimately the prices of gas at the pump become critical during an election year.”
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