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Stanford University researcher indicted for being a secret member of China’s military

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A Stanford University researcher in neurological studies has been indicted by a federal grand jury for hiding her affiliation as a member of the Chinese military forces while in the United States, the DOJ stated Friday.

The grand jury issued the “superseding indictment” that charged Chen Song with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and false statements “in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status as a member of the People’s Republic of China’s military forces while in the United States.”

“We allege that while Chen Song worked as a researcher at Stanford University, she was secretly a member of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California.

“When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity,” Anderson stated in a press release. “This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences.”

Song, 39, allegedly entered the United States on Dec. 23, 2018. According to the superseding indictment she used a J-1 non-immigrant visa to conduct research at Stanford University. According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair, with the FBI’s San Francisco Office, Song took “active steps to destroy evidence of affiliation with the Chinese military.”

He noted that she also took steps to destroy her “current PLA credentials depicting her in military dress uniform.”

She obtained the J-1 visa “for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs” with an application she submitted in November 2018.

Many times, foreign and industrial spies use the student and other non-immigrant work visa’s to enter the United States and steal research and information. China has been prolific in its tendency to steal from U.S. researchers and companies. Moreover, the Chinese communist government has notoriously attempted to infiltrate U.S. intelligence and defense apparatus, according to numerous analysts.

In Song’s visa application, she described herself as a “neurologist who was coming to the United States to conduct research at Stanford University related to brain disease.”

DOJ PRESS RELEASE:

As part of the application, Song stated that she had served in the Chinese military only from Sept. 1, 2000, through June 30, 2011. She further stated that her employer was “Xi Diaoyutai Hospital” located at “No. 30 Fucheng Road, Beijing, 100142,” and that her highest rank was “STUDENT.”

The superseding indictment alleges that these were lies, and that Song was a member of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military, when she entered and while she was in the United States, and that the hospital she listed on her visa as her employer was a cover for her true employer, the PLA Air Force General Hospital in Beijing. 

Assistant Director with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Alan E. Kohler Jr., who was directly involved in the investigation, noted in the press release that members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army “cannot lie on their visa applications and come to the United States to study without expecting the FBI and our partners to catch them.”

“Time and again, the Chinese government prioritizes stealing U.S. research and taking advantage of our universities over obeying international norms,” Kohler stated.

Evidence of Song’s Connection to the Chinese Military (DOJ PRESS RELEASE BELOW)

The superseding indictment also adds allegations and charges of obstructive conduct by Song. Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges that Song found out about a case against another PLA member, who was charged on June 7, 2020, in the Northern District of California with visa fraud. The superseding indictment alleges that she then attempted to delete a digital folder of documents on an external hard drive that she possessed containing records relating to her military service and visa fraud, including:

  1. A digital version of a letter from Song, written in Chinese and addressed to the People’s Republic of China consulate in New York, in which Song explained that her stated employer, “Beijing Xi Diaoyutai Hospital” was a false front, and that because relevant approval documents were classified, she had attempted to mail them;
  2. An image of Song’s PLA credentials, with a photograph of her in military dress uniform, covering the time period from July 2016 to July 2020; and
  3. A digital version of a resume for Song, written in Chinese, again with a photograph of her in military dress uniform and listing her employer as the Air Force General Hospital.

Further, according to the superseding indictment, Song lied to FBI agents when interviewed, denying any affiliation with the PLA after 2011, and information associating Song with the PLA or Air Force General Hospital began to disappear from the Internet after the FBI’s investigation of Song was known to her. Finally, the superseding indictment alleges that, after Song had been charged by criminal complaint in this case, she selectively deleted relevant emails from that account, including certain emails relevant to her military service, employment, and affiliations.

Song is charged with visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a); obstruction of official proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2); two counts of alteration, destruction, mutilation, or concealment of records, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1); and making false statements to a government agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).   

An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed and Song, like all defendants, is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, she faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the visa fraud count; up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the false statements charge. In addition, the court may order additional terms of supervised release. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Song’s next appearance is scheduled for April 7, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. PST, before the Honorable William Alsup, U.S. District Judge, for pretrial conference, with a trial scheduled to begin on April 12, 2021.

You can follow Sara Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

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China Expands Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia to Squeeze out U.S.

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Similar to what is happening in the Pacific, the US is facing a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in Southeast Asia. During the recent G20 and ASEAN summits in Indonesia and Cambodia, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) media upped its propaganda war against the United States over Southeast Asia. Outlets like Global Times and Xinhua claim that China’s interests in Southeast Asia are focused on mutual benefits, while the US is a malicious force in the region. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust and purposeful aid to the Southeast Asian countries, while the US is neglecting them.

Claim #1: China’s Interest in Southeast Asia is Peaceful and Mutually Beneficial

China’s approach to Southeast Asia is benevolent and focused on mutual benefits, according to the CCP-run press. “China’s goal is to achieve a truly prosperous and peaceful ASEAN,” and “doesn’t interfere in ASEAN members’ internal affairs,” according to Global Times. “China focuses on pragmatic issues, such as promoting infrastructure construction, living standards, which are needed in those countries,” and “China is seeking a cooperative path toward common development,” according to another Global Times article. That same article quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China and the ASEAN countries “are good neighbors who will always be there for each other…”

One country that is particularly thankful for growing Chinese influence, according to the CCP press, is Indonesia. Indonesians want China to “lead…the world to a more peaceful and prosperous future,” and view Chinese President Xi Jinping “with an apparent sense of affability and affection,” according to Global Times. Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, praised China as “becom[ing] essential in improving global governance,” and that “the visionary concept of building a human community with a shared future proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping shows China is willing to work with other countries to create a peaceful and secure world with openness and inclusiveness,” according to Xinhua. And perhaps the most perplexing aspect of China’s “benevolence” in Indonesia is the “Peace Ark” – a hospital ship that has recently docked in Indonesia, but that is also a navy ship run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to Global Times.

Malaysia has a favorable view of China as well, according to the CCP press. Koh King Kee, president of Center for New Inclusive Asia, a Malaysian think tank, stated that “China is the backbone of the global supply chain and acts as a ballast stone of the global economy in times of uncertainty,” according to Xinhua.

And in response to US concerns over rising Chinese influence in Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian dismisses the base as not targeting any third party, according to Global Times. Cambodia’s Minister of National Defense Tea Banh further claimed that the Chinese involvement in that base is benevolent, stating that the base helps Cambodia “in cooperating with friendly countries and help[ing to] maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” according to that same article.

Claim #2: The US’ Interest in Southeast Asia is Manipulative, Malevolent

In contrast to China’s benevolence, the United States “only wants [ASEAN] to serve as its pawn to counter China, and to fulfill its own hegemony goal, according to Global Times. At the G20 conference in Bali, the US takes a “hegemonic, unilateral and protectionist approach,” and “is preaching war and confrontation,” according to that same article.

The US and the West are merely using the G20 summit in Bali “to advance their own geopolitical agenda against Russia, therefore preventing the crucial meeting from tackling serious economic issues,” according to another Global Times article. “Such a geopolitical focus “will worsen this uncertain and unstable world,” according to Veronika S. Saraswati, China Study Unit Convener at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia.

According to another Global Times article, the US is using ASEAN “to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations in the future,” is attempting to “rope in the region via political, security, and value-oriented agendas,” and is trying “to buy off” Southeast Asian countries “by pledging to spend certain amount[s] of money.”

Claim #3: China gives Robust, Targeted Aid to Southeast Asia

CCP media taunts the extensive aid that China is giving to Southeast Asian countries. China has pledged $1.5 billion in “development assistance” to ASEAN countries in November 2021, and Chinese-ASEAN trade was about $878 billion in 2021, according to Global Times. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang claims that of the 160 “cooperation initiatives” that China has suggested with the ASEAN countries in the previous 10 years, over 99.5 percent of them have been implemented, as reported by another Global Times article.

Li also stated that China is planning to build emergency storage for medical supplies and rise within the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) framework, according to Global Times.

Chinese state-run media is particularly touting China’s Belt and Road investments in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Laos. According to Global Times, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway will be operational in June 2023, and as a “flagship project of China-Indonesia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” will be the first high speed train in Southeast Asia, according to Xinhua. China’s ambassador to Indonesia praised the project, claiming that the railway “will greatly reduce traffic jams, make travel more convenient for local people, improve local investment environment, boost businesses and tourism along the route, and accelerate the building of a high speed railway economic corridor.” The ambassador also mentioned that existing Belt and Road initiatives with Indonesia like the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and the PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry Park, “have generated tax incomes, job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, and provided Indonesia with opportunities for greater participation in global industrial chains of stainless steel and new energy.”

Meanwhile, Global Times asserts that the China-Laos Railway has generated at least $1.7 billion in trade and has transported almost 10 million tons of goods.

Claim #4: US Investment Lags Behind China

On the other hand, the CCP media claims that the US is lagging far behind Chinese investments in Southeast Asia. President Biden’s newly announced “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with the ASEAN countries “…looks more like a symbolic act. The US is playing the catch-up game with China,” according to Koh King Kee, president of a Malaysian think tank, according to Global Times.

US and ASEAN trade, at $441 million in 2021, was almost half that of Chinese investment for that same time, according to Global Times. President Biden pledged to ask Congress for $850 million in aid for electric vehicles and clean energy to ASEAN countries, but this amount is “symbolic” and a “mere ‘drop in the bucket’,” according to Global Times. In May, Biden “announced a $150 million development and security package” for the ASEAN countries according to that same article, which pales in comparison to the amounts in aid that China claims it is giving those same countries.

According to Global Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned that US investment in ASEAN is “a drop in the bucket if compared to US support for Ukraine” during the Biden administration, which Global Times claims is “over $18.9 billion in security assistance.”

Conclusion

CCP media is waging a charm offensive targeting Southeast Asia. While China is investing heavily in these countries, the US has yet to devise a credible counter to such influence.

You can follow Steve Postal on @HebraicMosaic 

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