Aggie Professor Busted for Hiding Ties with China

The College Fix reported that on August 25, 2020 Texas A&M professor was arrested for charges of conspiracy, making false statements, and wire fraud in connection to a Chinese university and a Chinese business.

Professor Zhengdong Cheng did research for NASA and was alleged to have hidden his affiliations and collaboration with the Guangdong University of Technology. He was a part of the Guangdong University of Technology Chinese Talents plan.

“Through these plans the Chinese government has created a significant financial incentive for foreign, talented individuals to transfer international technology and intellectual property to China, licitly or otherwise,” the Department of Justice complaint read.

Per the DOJ complaint, Cheng and Texas A&M received funding based on Cheng knowingly giving false information to Texas A&M and NASA. In addition, Cheng allegedly received personal benefits due to his connection with Texas A&M and NASA. He also enjoyed increased access to certain NASA resources, such as the International Space Station. Due this kind of access, Cheng was able to enjoy a more enhanced standing at Guangdong and other universities.

The complaint alleges that Cheng started working for Guangdong in 2012  up until at least 2018.

The complaint revealed that Cheng was part of a research team that filed an application for a grant — valued at $746,967 — to carry out research for NASA. He eventually received the grant despite regulations explicitly prohibiting recipients from “participating, collaborating, or coordinating bilaterally with China, any Chinese-owned company, or any Chinese university.”

All these allegations notwithstanding, Chen kept his connection to the Chinese university under wraps, thus enabling him to receive the grant.

“China is building an economy and academic institutions with bricks stolen from others all around the world,” declared U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick for the Southern District of Texas in a statement after Chen’s arrest.

“While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities,” commented Patrick. “These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law.”

The College Fix noted that Chen’s arrest is part of a growing trend of researchers at American universities being arrested or indicted due to their ties with Chinese talent recruitment programs.

Such cases will only engender more mistrust in universities. For America’s sake, policymakers should severely restrict migration in order to stymie the occurrence of future cases of espionage and research theft at universities.