Over 150 Chinese-born scientists conducting taxpayer-funded research in the U.S. are now working at Chinese Communist Party-run laboratories, often on technologies with military applications.
The findings are contained in a private intelligence report conducted by the software development firm Strider, which was obtained by NBC News. When questioned by NBC about the report’s concerning findings, the Department of Energy (DOE) emphasized that “international collaboration is critical to its efforts” and declined to answer any specific questions.
The report identifies over 150 Chinese-born scientists who have worked on taxpayer-funded projects at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the last two decades now conducting “sensitive” research in China. Some of the research presently occurring in China has “military application, [including] hypersonic missiles, deep earth-penetrating warheads, [and] quiet submarines.”
Based in New Mexico, the laboratory is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that traces its roots to World War II, as it was launched for designing nuclear weapons such as the atomic bomb.
Despite being a key institution for America’s national security, the laboratory appears to have deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party and its military. The relationship is “supercharging China’s threat to American national security,” argues the report.
Zhao Yusheng, for example, was a researcher at Los Alamos for 18 years, collecting over $20 million worth of taxpayer-funded research grants. Zhao also received a top-secret “Q-level” clearance, allowing him to lead a defense project that developed bombs that penetrate underground.
In 2016, however, Zhao joined a talent recruitment program and research center run by the Chinese Communist Party as well as becoming Vice President at China’s Southern University of Science and Technology, which conducts defense research. 15 researchers from Los Alamos are affiliated with the university, including its current president.
Before departing Los Alamos, Zhao hired another Chinese-born assistant researcher who later filed a patent after returning to China with information related to the class of bombs his team was working on in the U.S.
The significant majority, 80 percent, of Chinese-born researchers were recruited via talent programs, which are efforts led by Beijing to lure Chinese-born scientists residing in the West to come home. Oftentimes, the Chinese Communist Party pays researchers nearly $1 million to return to China, using the knowledge and experience they gained at taxpayer expense in the U.S. to boost the regime’s military capabilities.
The revolving door between Los Alamos and Chinese laboratories is not illegal and the DOE maintains that it “works hard to protect critical defense technology.”
The report comes amidst similar concerns about researchers funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) working in collaboration with Chinese-run labs such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology on dangerous, “gain-of-function” research into bat coronaviruses.
Natalie Winters contributed this report.