The U.S. Justice Department on Friday arrested, and on Monday charged, Professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang of the University of Arkansas on a single count of wire fraud, but there is much more to the case that relates to China. According to the department’s press release:
In the one-count complaint, Ang was charged with one count of Wire Fraud. The complaint charges that Ang had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese companies, and failed to disclose those ties when required to do so in order to receive grant money from NASA. These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud.
Ang, 63, teaches engineering at the university. According to his bio, he holds four patents and has held a number of sensitive positions as he has risen through the teaching ranks including…
section manager in the Advanced Power Integrated Circuit Development Center prior to joining the faculty of the University of Arkansas in 1988 as an Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering. He became an Associate Professor in 1991 and a full Professor in 1995. Dr. Ang is the Director of the High Density Electronics Center and an Associate Director of the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission.
Fox News provides more detail on the case.
The investigation into Ang began when a library employee found an email between Ang and a Chinese researcher, the Arkansas Times reported.
“You can search the Chinese website regarding what the US will do to Thousand Talent Scholars,” Ang reportedly wrote in an email. “Not many people here know I am one of them but if this leaks out, my job here will be in deep troubles.” (snip)
In recent years, China has aggressively lured Chinese talent and foreign experts from overseas in furtherance of its scientific development through its so-called “Thousand Talents Program.”
The United States has put China’s Thousand Talents Program under increasing scrutiny over the past couple of years. A Senate Intelligence Committee report in 2019 said the Chinese government planned to spend as much as 15% of its GDP on the program, which is a widespread espionage and technology development scheme that benefits China’s military. The program, according to the report, is part of China’s goal to dominate the world by 2050.
Launched in 2008, the ThousandTalents Plan incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain here to China in exchange for salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives. China unfairly uses the American research and expertise it obtains for its own economic and military gain. In recent years, federal agencies have discovered talent recruitment plan members who downloaded sensitive electronic research files before
leaving to return to China, submitted false information when applying for grant funds, and willfully failed to disclose receiving money from the Chinese government on U.S. grant applications.
This is what Mr. Ang appears to be accused of by the Justice Department. If convicted, he faces a maximum 20 years in prison.