China Rips Off America
Stealing our secrets, conning our institutions, and penetrating our politics.
“We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.” That was candidate Donald Trump back in April of 2016. As he also said, in reference to China, “we’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed.” If that seems a stretch, consider the case of Ruopeng Liu.
The Chinese student enrolled at Duke University in 2006 and in 2007 he became a protégé of Dr. David Smith, developer of “metamaterials.” These function as an “invisibility cloak” that can make objects invisible to microwave signals.
Liu brought in two researchers from China, and during their stay at Duke they took photographs of the lab and its contents, as NBC noted “focusing on the apparatus that allows scientists to measure the cloak.” They took everything back to China, where they built an exact replica in Liu’s previous lab.
Smith said it sounded like theft and the FBI agreed, though no charges were filed. Some observers wondered if the Chinese government had tasked Liu to grab Smith’s intellectual property but in an interview Liu laughed and called the charge “ridiculous.” Liu is now worth a reported $2.7 billion and touted as the Elon Musk of China.
In similar style, hardware engineer Xiaolang Zhang worked for Apple’s Project Titan, an autonomous vehicle project. After a trip to China, he told Apple he was leaving to work for Xiaopeng Motors in Guangzhou. Zhang then conducted targeted downloads of schematics, technical manuals and other intellectual property. The FBI arrested Zhang before he could return to China, but it remains uncertain how much of the “reams” of Apple’s stolen material he had already transmitted.
China is mounting a “Made in China 2025” initiative to increase domestic production of core semiconductor materials. In that cause, Chinese controlled companies have been luring away employees from Micron and “taking company secrets with them.” At one event recruiters “used codenames that were only supposed to be known to Micron employees.” Such corporate espionage is hardly a new venture for China.
As Newsweek reported in 1997, according to intelligence sources nearly 1,000 American companies “are being used by the Chinese either for espionage activities or to illegally acquire American technology.” For their part, the Chinese did not neglect the political scene.
The Clinton White House tapped John Huang as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for international economic policy. Huang gained a top-secret security clearance and in 18 months attended 37 intelligence briefings. The Clinton favorite also visited the Chinese embassy and before one visit with the Chinese ambassador Huang requested documents stamped “Secret.”
The DOJ and FBI were curious whether Huang’s activity had anything to do with reports by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that the embassy had been used to parcel out direct contributions from “foreign sources” to Democrats. As the president acknowledged “it would be a very serious matter for the United States if any country were to attempt to funnel funds to one of our political parties for any reason whatsoever.”
According to William Safire of the New York Times, Huang could view “some 500 pieces of raw intelligence that revealed sources and methods.” From his Commerce Department office, Huang made 261 calls to companies with ties to China.
As Safire noted, Clinton reassigned Huang to the Democratic National Committee “where he could raise funds from those he had serviced,” and John Huang was “the only DNC official ever to be able to keep his security clearance.” According to a joint statement by the FBI and CIA: “There are indications that Chinese efforts in connection with the 1996 elections were undertaken or orchestrated, at least in part, by People’s Republic of China intelligence agencies.”
Curiously, none of that emerged when former First Lady Hillary Clinton mounted her presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2016. By then more American institutions were openly collaborating with China.
The Chinese government’s ministry of education funds the Confucius Institutes, now present at more than 100 American colleges and universities and hundreds of primary and secondary schools. The CI program pressures American schools to disinvite speakers it doesn’t want students to hear.
At North Carolina State CI was responsible for disinviting the Dalai Lama. CI blocks access to articles about the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Cultural Revolution, and Chinese control of Tibet, occupied since 1959.
As police have noted, the Chinese are also moving in on the marijuana market. In California and Colorado, Chinese nationals operate sophisticated grow houses, in some cases funded by money from Chinese bank accounts.
What China can’t develop it deploys spies disguised as students and tech workers to steal from Americans. China attempts to leverage the debate on campus and Chinese intervention in American politics is a matter of record. On the other hand, for Democrats and their media allies the only meddling comes from Russia.
Meanwhile, as the record shows, candidate Trump was right that “we are the piggy bank that is being robbed.” President Trump has good reason to take a hard line with the Communist regime on all fronts.