Researcher Pleads Guilty To Selling OH Hospital ‘Trade Secrets’ To China’s Gov.
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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‘I Don’t Buy It’: Both Democrats and Republicans don’t believe TikTok’s pledge to protect Americans from CCP
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew had a hard time smoothing things over with both Democrats and Republicans during his Thursday testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. both parties expressed cynicism towards the notion that TikTok would protect U.S. data and American users of the app from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Specifically, lawmakers and regulators are concerned “about Chinese laws which require companies based in the country, such as TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, to provide the CCP with access to user data and other proprietary information” reports National Review.
National Review noted that TikTok was reportedly told by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., an inter-agency panel consisting of nine cabinet-level officials, to sell its stake in the social-media app or risk a ban in the U.S.
Before Chew testified on Thursday, China said it strongly opposed ByteDance’s divestment from the social-media platform. China’s Commerce Ministry said that a sale or divestiture of TikTok would involve exporting technology and had to be approved by the Chinese government, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Democrat and ranking member, Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey said Chew’s solution of a $1.5 billion plan nicknamed ‘Project Texas’ which allegedly would “wall off U.S. operations, with all data being stored here” is unacceptable.
Project Texas would give U.S. company Oracle based in Texas the ability to access TikTok’s algorithms in order to flag issues for government inspectors. “I still believe that the Beijing Communist government will still control and have the ability to influence what you do. So this idea, this Project Texas is simply not acceptable,” Pallone said.
“Look, the impression you are giving, and I can understand why you are giving that impression, is that you are just performing some kind of public service here. Right? I mean this is a benign company that is just performing a public service. Maybe that’s not what you are saying, but I don’t buy it,” Pallone continued.
Democrat Marc Veasey of Texas stated to Chew, “A lot of your evasiveness today in answering many of these questions really disturbs me.” The committee’s chairwoman, Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington opened the hearing by exposing Chew off the bat: “You state that ByteDance is not beholden to the CCP. Again, each of the individuals I listed are affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.”
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