Portman Statement on Former Nationwide Children’s Researcher and Chinese Talents Program Member Pleading Guilty for Alleged Theft of Scientific Trade Secrets and Wire Fraud

July 31, 2020 | Press Releases

CINCINNATI, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) issued the following statement after John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that a former Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute researcher pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets and conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with her affiliation with multiple talent plans in China while receiving American taxpayer-funded grant funding.  

Senator Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led a year-long investigation into China’s talent recruitment programs like the Thousand Talents Program, culminating in a bipartisan report in November 2019 that detailed how China has recruited U.S.-based scientists and researchers since the late 1990s and incentivized them to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and IP to China for their own military and economic gain. This arrest follows the string of arrests of academics affiliated with American universities for allegedly concealing their participation in China’s talent recruitment programs while accepting American taxpayer-funded grant funding. Portman recently introduced the bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act to protect American research and IP from global competitors. There are already troubling reports that China, and other global competitors, may be trying to steal COVID-19-related research. The Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week, will help prevent this from happening. For that reason, it was recently announced that this legislation has been included in Senate Republicans’ HEALS coronavirus response package. 

“I’m pleased that our committee investigation and resulting report last year has spurred additional action by federal law enforcement to hold China accountable. For too long, China has exploited the lack of transparency in our education system to steal our taxpayer-funded research and innovation and the federal government has done little or nothing to stop it. I commend U.S. Attorney DeVillers and the DOJ for their work to stop another alleged member of China’s talent programs, adding to the string of arrests that have been announced over the last couple months. This case further underscores the need for my bipartisan legislation to safeguard American innovation, hold countries like China accountable for their actions, and ensure our world-class research enterprise is protected here in America. With troubling reports that China is may be trying to steal taxpayer-funded COVID-19 research, we must pass my Safeguarding American Act  to help stop China’s ongoing theft of America’s research and innovation.”