[US Attorney] Lelling recognizes that international collaboration has helped make U.S. science the envy of the world, and thinks that U.S.-trained scientists should be free to live and work anywhere. But those who decide to mingle their federal funding with support from Chinese institutions are playing a dangerous game, he warns, adding that Lieber is a perfect example.
“The Chinese government has a very strategic approach to obtaining technology,” Lelling says. “It targets researchers who specialize in areas where the Chinese are deficient, in the hopes that they can piggyback on their expertise to close that strategic gap.”
“What concerns us … is that a scientist who accepts their support becomes dependent on it to the point where they are willing to accept [an assignment] from the Chinese government or a Chinese university for whatever it is they need. Those of us that work on public corruption cases develop a radar for when person or entity A is attempting to coopt or corrupt person or entity B. And a large enough amount of money can shift loyalties.”(Incidentally, I found Lelling's indication that "And so, unfortunately, a lot of our targets are going to be Han Chinese" to be pretty chilling. I'd like federal prosecutors to be a little more precise with their language, thank you very much.)
In other Lieber news, another Science article indicates Professor Lieber was working on battery research in Wuhan, which is odd, because that's not the main thrust of his work in the United States. Interesting...