An American professor has been arrested for “concealing” suspicious ties to the China’s Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) in an attempt “to defraud the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),” according to a bombshell Department of Justice (DOJ) report.
The person of interest, 51-year-old Amning Hu was a researcher and associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville prior to being charged with “three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.”
The university has since removed his work from its website.
According to the DOJ press release, Hu broke federal law by utilizing NASA funds for research despite maintaining an affiliation with the China-based institution, BJUT, and misrepresenting the nature of it.
The indictment explains:
Federal law prohibits NASA from using federally appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China or Chinese universities. As alleged in the indictment, Hu’s false representations and omissions to UTK about his affiliation with BJUT caused UTK to falsely certify to NASA that UTK was in compliance with federal law.
If convicted, Hu could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and three separate fines up to $250,000 for each case of wire fraud counts.
And American officials have voiced comparably harsh reactions, alluding to the numerous other cases of the China-sponsored financial exploitation and intellectual theft occurring at American universities.
U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey for the Eastern District of Tennessee stated “The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously fraudulent conduct that is devised to undermine federally-mandated funding restrictions related to China and Chinese universities.”
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers added: “This is just the latest case involving professors or researchers concealing their affiliations with China from their American employers and the U.S. government. We will not tolerate it.”
Following the Trump administration’s firm stance towards China, a rejection of decades-long, establishment-sanctioned policies of appeasement and outsourcing, the indictment also includes the case as “part of the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, which reflects the strategic priority of countering national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy.”
It continues: “In addition to identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage, the initiative will increase efforts to protect our critical infrastructure against external threats including direct foreign investment, supply chain threats and the foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers without proper registration.”
This comes on the heels of the DOJ indicting Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department Chair Charles Lieber and two Chinese nationals with conspiracy, acting as agents of a foreign government, smuggling, visa fraud, and making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements.
Similarly, the Department of Education launched a crusade against foreign influence in American universities, focusing primarily on donors linked to Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party.