At least 154 scientists at America’s top nuclear lab over the last two decades were recruited by China to conduct sensitive research, according to a report obtained exclusively by @NBCNews.
— Top Story with Tom Llamas (@TopStoryNBC) September 21, 2022
The video above is worth a watch as a follow-up to OODA Loop’s ongoing research and analysis of:
Russians and Chinese using human targeting – amongst other tools- to achieve security advantage in key emerging technologies by 2030
In late October, The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) issued a report warning of China’s goal to achieve a technological advantage over the U.S. in certain key emerging technologies. Beijing’s long-term goal is a strategic advantage over the U.S. and its security interests by 2030 in areas such as biotechnology, genomic technology, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors. Russia is making strides in this direction as well, but is constrained by resources and has not made the level of commitment as the Chinese. Human targeting is highlighted as a tool used prolifically by the Chinese.
A recent CSET Issue Brief takes a very quant-based approach to create a snapshot of the international Ph.D. graduate students trained in the U.S. For years, the conventional wisdom has been that a) Domestic U.S. universities are training a disproportionate amount of international Ph.D. graduate students, and b) The U.S. is impacting its strategic opportunity for advantage by training advanced STEM talent and then sending them back to their home countries. The results of the CSET analysis are compelling and contradict the notion that the U.S. has created our own ‘brain drain factory’ at the Ph.D. Graduate-level at U.S. universities. Quite the contrary.
Following are the reports mentioned in the NBC News coverage:
Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise: China’s Talent Recruitment Plans – 2019-11-18 PSI Staff Report:
United States Senate
PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Foreign researchers and scholars travel to the United States just to participate in the advancement of science and technology. Some countries, however, seek to exploit America’s openness to advance their own national interests. The most aggressive of them has been China. China primarily does this through its more than 200 talent recruitment plans—the most prominent of which is the Thousand Talents Plan. Launched in 2008, the Thousand Talents 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 report exposes how American taxpayer-funded research has contributed to China’s global rise over the last 20 years. During that time, China openly recruited U.S.-based researchers, scientists, and experts in the public and private sectors to provide China with knowledge and intellectual capital in exchange for monetary gain and other benefits. At the same time, the federal government’s grant-making agencies did little to prevent this from happening, nor did the FBI and other federal agencies develop a coordinated response to mitigate the threat. These failures continue to undermine the integrity of the American research enterprise and endanger our national security.
The Los Alamos Club: How the People’s Republic of China Recruited Leading Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory to Advance Its Military Program
Strider Technologies, Inc.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is employing a Talent Superpower Strategy designed to incentivize academics, researchers, and scientists to go abroad, deepen their expertise, and return to China to advance its strategic interests. What began in the 1980s as a program to send young talent overseas has evolved to incorporate initiatives that seek to harness these individuals’ efforts for China’s gain and, ultimately, encourage them to return to the PRC to work in key technology sectors.
The extent to which these initiatives are active in U.S. government laboratories is unknown. However, China’s recruitment of individuals who have worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico reflects the ambitions of the PRC’s talent strategy and its exploitation of Western commitments to global scientific collaboration. The PRC’s success among former Los Alamos affiliates, along with support for China’s talent programs from Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping and other top CCP leaders, suggest that similar recruitment efforts may be widespread among U.S. government-funded laboratories, academic research institutions, and major centers of innovation. Moreover, the Los Alamos case shows how China’s rapid advances in certain key military technologies are being aided by individuals who participated in sensitive U.S. government-funded research.
Between 1987 and 2021, at least 162 scientists who had worked at Los Alamos returned to the PRC to support a variety of domestic research and development (R&D) programs. Fifteen of those scientists worked as permanent staff members at Los Alamos. Of those fifteen, thirteen were recruited into PRC government talent programs; some were responsible for sponsoring visiting scholars and postdoctoral researchers from the PRC, and some received U.S. government funding for sensitive research. At least one of these staff members held a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) “Q Clearance” allowing access to Top Secret Restricted Data and National Security Information.
Of the 162 returnees, at least 59 scientists were selectees of the PRC’s flagship talent recruitment program—the Thousand Talents Program (TTP) and its youth branch, the Youth Thousand Talents Program (YTTP). Ninety-eight of the scientists who returned were postdoctoral researchers, and 49 were visiting scholars. Although such individuals do not have access to the most sensitive research at Los Alamos, they still pose a risk of technology transfer and economic espionage. The DOE has acknowledged instances in which researchers elsewhere have passed dual-use and export-controlled research to the PRC via visiting students and scholars.
“The Los Alamos Club:” New Report Details China’s Efforts to Recruit Leading U.S. Department of Energy Scientists to Advance Defense Technology Programs for the People’s Republic of China
Salt Lake City, UT (September 20, 2022)
Strider Technologies, Inc. today released a new report detailing the People’s Republic of China’s decades-long recruitment of leading scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
The report’s findings are the latest evidence of the PRC employing its broader Talent Superpower Strategy to incentivize Chinese academics, researchers, and scientists to go abroad, deepen their expertise, and return to advance China’s strategic interests.
Key findings include:
- Hypersonics and Aerodynamics: Dr. Chen Shiyi spent the 1990s at Los Alamos and, after returning to China, served as President of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) where he excelled at recruiting scientists with links to Los Alamos. Dr. Chen Shiyi is a world-renowned expert in fluid dynamics and turbulence who has made major contributions to China’s hypersonics and aerodynamics programs.
- Deep Penetrating Warheads: One of Dr. Chen’s first recruits, Zhao Yusheng, spent 18 years of his career at Los Alamos, Zhao received grants totaling $19.8 million in US government funding, including for sensitive research on deep-earth penetrating warheads. While at the lab, Zhao sponsored a postdoctoral researcher who filed a national defense patent on similar technology upon returning to the PRC. The researcher is now affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), the PRC’s premier nuclear weapons R&D and production facility.
- Submarine Noise Reduction: Dr. He Guowei is contributing to the PRC’s efforts to develop quieter submarines to evade detection. While at Los Alamos in the late 1990s, Dr. He cooperated extensively with Dr. Chen Shiyi. After he returned to the PRC, Dr. He worked at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics (IMCAS) where his team developed computer models that help to quickly and accurately predict turbulence generated by submarines.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: In 2016, Chen Shiyi recruited Dr. Shan Xiaowen to serve in SUSTech’s Department of Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering. Shan worked at Los Alamos from 1991 to 1998 and collaborated with Chen in the early ’90s. In 2019, Dr. Shan became Head of the SUSTech Intelligent Aviation R&D Center, which focuses on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies. Under Shan’s leadership, the center produced a prototype Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV with both civil and military applications.
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