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September 29, 2019

The Federal Register

DoD is issuing an interim rule to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to implement a DoD Assessment Methodology and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification framework in order to assess contractor implementation of cybersecurity requirements and enhance the protection of unclassified information within the DoD supply chain.

Effective November 30, 2020.

The theft of intellectual property and sensitive information from all U.S. industrial sectors due to malicious cyber activity threatens economic security and national security. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. Over a ten-year period, that burden would equate to an estimated $570 billion to $1.09 trillion dollars in costs. As part of multiple lines of effort focused on the security and resiliency of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector, the Department is working with industry to enhance the protection of unclassified information within the supply chain. Toward this end, DoD has developed the following assessment methodology and framework to assess contractor implementation of cybersecurity requirements, both of which are being implemented by this rule: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171 DoD Assessment Methodology and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Framework. The NIST SP 800-171 DoD Assessment and CMMC assessments will not duplicate efforts from each assessment, or any other DoD assessment, except for rare circumstances when a re-assessment may be necessary, such as, but not limited to, when cybersecurity risks, threats, or awareness have changed, requiring a re-assessment to ensure current compliance.

Click here to read more.

August 17, 2020

U.S. Department of Commerce

From: https://www.commerce.gov/

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today further restricted access by Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List to items produced domestically and abroad from U.S. technology and software. In addition, BIS added another 38 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, which imposes a license requirement for all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and modified four existing Huawei Entity List entries. BIS also imposed license requirements on any transaction involving items subject to Commerce export control jurisdiction where a party on the Entity List is involved, such as when Huawei (or other Entity List entities) acts as a purchaser, intermediate, or end user. These actions, effective immediately, prevent Huawei’s attempts to circumvent U.S. export controls to obtain electronic components developed or produced using U.S. technology.  

Click here to read the press release. 

June 23, 2020

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

From: www.whitehouse.gov/ostp

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released detailed guidance, along with both case studies and examples, in efforts to protect America’s science, technology, and innovation from foreign threats. 

Click here for more information (PDF).

June 11, 2020

U.S Department of Justice

From: https://www.justice.gov/ 

Defendant Charged with Visa Fraud, Arrested At Airport While Planning To Leave the United States.

Xin Wang, a scientific researcher and officer with the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while attempting to depart the United States for Tianjin, China, and was charged with visa fraud, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. According to court documents filed today and a complaint which was unsealed on Monday, Wang entered the United States on March 26, 2019, after receiving a multiple entry J1 non-immigrant visa in December of 2018.  Wang’s visa application stated that the purpose of his visit was to conduct scientific research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  Wang is alleged to have made fraudulent statements on this visa application.  Specifically, in his visa application, Wang stated that he had served as an Associate Professor in Medicine in the PLA, from September 1, 2002 through September 1, 2016.

Click here to read more. 

June 2, 2020

U.S. Department of State

From: https://www.state.gov/

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thanks for joining us today for this background briefing to discuss the announcement made last week by President Trump and elaborated on by Secretary Pompeo on limiting the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to leverage nonimmigrant student and researcher visa programs to acquire United States technologies, intellectual property, and information to develop advanced weapons systems in China. As the Secretary noted, we will not tolerate PRC attempts acquire American technology and intellectual property from our academic institutions and research facilities for Chinese military end uses.  We want to stress, however, that the United States will continue to welcome all legitimate students and scholars in the PRC for student – for study and research once routine visa processing resumes.

Click here to read more. 

May 29, 2020

White House

From: https://www.whitehouse.gov

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is engaged in a wide‑ranging and heavily resourced campaign to acquire sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property, in part to bolster the modernization and capability of its military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  The PRC’s acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property to modernize its military is a threat to our Nation’s long-term economic vitality and the safety and security of the American people.

The PRC authorities use some Chinese students, mostly post‑graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.  Thus, students or researchers from the PRC studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern.  In light of the above, I have determined that the entry of certain nationals of the PRC seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.

Click here to read more. 

May 29, 2020

U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Oklahoma

From: https://www.justice.gov/ 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Shaorong Liu ("Liu") and Juan Lu ("Lu"), both of Norman, have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing.

According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, Liu and Lu are employed at the University of Oklahoma Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Liu and Lu also controlled a company, MicroChem Solutions (MCS).  Through MCS, they applied for and received federal grant monies from the Department of Energy.  The mission of the grant program was to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.  The affidavit alleges Liu and Lu spent this grant money on matters unrelated to the purpose of the grant funding, including on personal expenses.

Click here for more information.

May 12, 2020

U.S. Government Accountability Office

From: https://www.gao.gov/

The Departments of State (State) and Commerce (Commerce) have each provided guidance and outreach to support exporters’ understanding of and compliance with their separate export control regulations. Exporters, including universities, are subject to these regulations if they ship export-controlled items overseas or if they share such items, including technology or source code, with foreign persons in the United States. University and association officials raised concerns that State and Commerce guidance and outreach does not adequately address export compliance issues that are more common to universities than to industry, such as fundamental research—i.e., research that is ordinarily published and not subject to export control regulations. Without additional guidance and outreach that addresses such issues, universities may not have the information they need to adequately comply with these regulations and properly safeguard export-controlled items.

Click here for more information.

Click here to view the full report (PDF). 

April 27, 2020

U.S. Department of Commerce

From: https://www.commerce.gov/

The Department of Commerce announced today new export control actions to prevent efforts by entities in China, Russia, and Venezuela to acquire U.S. technology that could be used in development of weapons, military aircraft, or surveillance technology through civilian supply chains, or under civilian-use pretenses, for military end uses and military end-users.

Specifically, the rule changes include:

  • Expansion of Military End Use/User Controls (MEU)
    Expands MEU license requirements controls on China, Russia, and Venezuela to cover military end-users in all three countries, as well as items such as semiconductor equipment, sensors, and other technologies sought for military end use or by military end-users in these countries.
  • Removal of License Exception Civil End Users (CIV)
    Removes a license exception for exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) to civilian
    end-users in countries of national security concern for National Security- (NS) controlled items.
  • Elimination of License Exception Additional Permissive Reexports (APR) Provisions
    Proposes to eliminate certain provisions of a license exception for partner countries involving the reexport of NS-controlled items to countries of national security concern to ensure consistent reviews of exports and reexports of U.S. items.

 

Click here to read more. 

March 10, 2020

U.S Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

From justice.gov: Press Release 20-300

Dr. James Patrick Lewis, of Fairview, West Virginia, has admitted to a fraud charge involving West Virginia University, the Department of Justice announced. Lewis, age 54, pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with “Federal Program Fraud.” From 2006 to August 2019, Lewis was a tenured professor at West Virginia University in the physics department, specializing in molecular reactions used in coal conversion technologies. In July 2017, Lewis entered into a contract of employment with the People’s Republic of China through its “Global Experts 1000 Talents Plan.” China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruit plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security. These talent programs seek to lure overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information.

Click here to read more. 

February 27, 2020

U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Tennessee

From justice.gov: Press Release:20-244

Knoxville, Tenn. – U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey and FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Joseph E. Carrico announced today the arrest of a researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), following the return of a federal grand jury’s indictment.  Anming Hu, 51, an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at UTK, is charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2016, Hu engaged in a scheme to defraud the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by concealing his affiliation with Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) in China.  Federal law prohibits NASA from using federally appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China or Chinese universities.  As alleged in the indictment, Hu’s false representations and omissions to UTK about his affiliation with BJUT caused UTK to falsely certify to NASA that UTK was in compliance with federal law.

Click here to read more. 

February 13, 2020

U.S Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

From justce.gov 

A superseding indictment was returned yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Huawei), the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and two U.S. subsidiaries with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Christopher A. Wray, Director, FBI, announced the charges.

Click here to read more.

February 10, 2020

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

From justice.gov: Press Release 20-157

Indictment Alleges Four Members of China’s People’s Liberation Army Engaged in a Three-Month Long Campaign to Steal Sensitive Personal Information of Nearly 150 Million Americans.

A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment last week charging four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with hacking into the computer systems of the credit reporting agency Equifax and stealing Americans’ personal data and Equifax’s valuable trade secrets.

Click here to read more. 

Indictment (PDF)

January 10, 2020

Executive Order

From whitehouse.gov: Presidential Actions - Foreign Policy

The President issued an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions with respect to additional sectors of the Iranian economy, including: construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining.  This action will significantly expand the United States’ ability to target this regime’s various revenue streams.

Executive Order (PDF)

January 6, 2020

Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)

From federalregister.gov: Interim final rule with request for comments.

Rule is effective January 6, 2020. Comments must be received by March 6, 2020.

In this interim final rule, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to make certain items subject to the EAR and to impose a license requirement for the export and reexport of those items to all destinations, except Canada. Specifically, this rule classifies software specially designed to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery, as specified, under the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 0Y521 series, specifically under ECCN 0D521. BIS adds this item to the 0Y521 series of ECCNs upon a determination by the Department of Commerce, with the concurrence of the Departments of Defense and State, and other agencies as appropriate, that the items warrant control for export because the items may provide a significant military or intelligence advantage to the United States or because foreign policy reasons justify control, pursuant to the ECCN 0Y521 series procedures.

Click here to read more. 

Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 3 / Monday, January 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (PDF)

December 13, 2019

U.S Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

From justice.gov: Press Release 19-1391

The Department of Justice today announced the release of a revised policy for business organizations regarding voluntary disclosures of export control and sanctions violations (Voluntary Self-Disclosure Policy or VSD Policy).  The Voluntary Self-Disclosure Policy builds on the guidance NSD issued in October 2016, and will be formally incorporated into the Justice Manual.  This revised VSD Policy signals the Department’s continued emphasis on corporate voluntary self-disclosure, rewarding cooperating companies with a presumption in favor of a non-prosecution agreement and significant reductions in penalties.

“Protecting our nation’s sensitive technologies and preventing transactions with sanctioned entities are DOJ priorities, but we cannot succeed alone,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “We need the private sector to come forward and work with DOJ.  The revised VSD Policy should reassure companies that, when they do report violations directly to DOJ, the benefits of their cooperation will be concrete and significant.”

Click here to read more. 

Export Control and Sanctions Enforcement Policy for Business Organizations (PDF)

December 11, 2019

National Science Foundation (NSF)

From: nsf.gov: News Release 19-023

As part of its ongoing effort to keep international research collaboration both open and secure, the National Science Foundation (NSF) today released a report by the independent science advisory group JASON titled “Fundamental Research Security.”

NSF commissioned the report to enhance the agency’s understanding of the threats to basic research posed by foreign governments that have taken actions that violate the principles of scientific ethics and research integrity. With the official receipt of the report, NSF will now begin the process of analyzing its findings and recommendations.

“NSF takes seriously its obligation to keep basic research open and collaborative while also safeguarding its integrity,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “We commissioned the JASON study to provide a clear picture of the challenges we face and to help chart a course forward. We are fully committed to working with our partners to strike a balance between expanding the global scientific community and shaping policies to protect U.S. research.”

Across the federal government, research agencies are coordinating to address the challenges outlined in the report. These efforts include a new request for information issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Joint Committee on Research Environments that seeks input on how to keep research secure.

Click here to read more.

Fundamental Research Security Report (PDF)

October 2019

Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

From: www.FARA.us  | An Informational Resource in a New Era of Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement

The Department of Education (DOE) appears to be stepping up scrutiny of American universities’ disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts. Several universities have received letters from the Department requesting information related to foreign gifts and contracts.

Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires that institutions report to the federal government any gift or contract with a foreign source valued at $250,000 or more “considered alone or in combination with all other gifts from or contracts with that foreign source within a calendar year.” On September 26, the DOE sent a letter to the University of Maryland (UMD) expressing concern that the university’s disclosures “may not fully capture all gifts, contracts, and/or restricted and conditional gifts or contracts or with all foreign sources to the University of Maryland and/or its affiliated entities operating substantially under the auspices of your institution for its benefit.” The letter requested records of foreign gifts and contracts connected with China, Qatar, and Russia.

Click here to read more. 

DOE letter to the University of Maryland (PDF)

DOE letter to Georgetown University and Texas A&M University (PDF)

October 11, 2019

The Under Secretary of Defense | Research and Engineering

From: Association of American Universities (AAU)

Defense Department Under Secretary for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin sent a letter to the research community to outline the current rising tensions and fears of potential espionage, intellectual property theft, and threats to academic integrity posed by foreign powers and steps the department has taken to address these threats.

Letter to Research Community on Science and Security (PDF)

September 17, 2019

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

From: Whitehouse.gov, Documents and Reports

Director Kelvin Droegemeier described several of the office’s priorities and planned activities for protecting the security of the U.S. research enterprise. The letter expresses concern over recent efforts by some foreign powers to “exploit, influence, and undermine our research activities and environments,” and concludes that “United States policies and practices must evolve thoughtfully and appropriately” to guard against such attacks. In particular, the letter notes that talent-recruitment programs sponsored by foreign governments have been at the center of several attempts to exploit U.S. research.

Letter to the United States Research Community (PDF)

Articles

September 29, 2019

FCW

The Defense Department released an interim rule for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program that will require contractors to prove they are keeping up with key cybersecurity measures. The rule, which goes into effect Nov. 30, was published in the Federal Register Sept. 29. Public comments will be collected until then and are expected to be considered when crafting the final rule. The interim rule includes contracting language to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement that "requires contractors to apply the security requirements of NIST SP 800-171 to 'covered contractor information systems'...that are not part of an IT service or system operated on behalf of the government." The interim rule effectively creates three levels for cybersecurity assessments -- basic, which is required to be eligible for award, medium and high, which can be conducted during the course of performance -- and two assessment tracks, one for NIST 800-171 that's effective now and one for CMMC, according to an analysis by the Wiley Rein law firm in Washington, D.C. "Under this framework, contractors will be required to complete a self-assessment of their compliance with NIST SP 800-171 before they can receive DOD contracts," Wiley Rein wrote. The aim of the program is to ensure DOD contractors are adhering to a uniform standard and that DOD's controlled unclassified information is protected. But while trade groups representing government and defense contractors have lauded the CMMC framework but criticized the implementation and rulemaking process. According to a chart that evaluates estimated annual assessment costs, companies seeking a CMMC Level 1 could expect to pay $1,000 a year for third-party assessments, while those seeking Level 3 certification could spend about $60,000 a year. For the latter, about $17,000 would go towards assessments, which are organized and run by the CMMC Accreditation Body - - a non-government entity partnering with DOD to develop curricula and implement training for assessors. 

Click here to read more.

September 9, 2020

Reuters

The United States has revoked more than 1,000 visas of Chinese nationals as of this week, a State Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday, as part of the Trump administration's push to block entry of students and researchers from China it believes have links to the Chinese military. In a May 29 proclamation, President Donald Trump restricted the entry of certain Chinese students and researchers to the United States, saying they were being used in Beijing's campaign to acquire sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual property. The State Department began implementing the rules effective June 1. "As of September 8, 2020, the Department has revoked more than 1,000 visas of PRC nationals who were found to be subject to Presidential Proclamation 10043 and therefore ineligible for a visa," a department spokeswoman said in emailed comments to Reuters. The department has broad authority to revoke visas, she said, and exercises that authority when information comes to light time indicating that a visa holder may be inadmissible to the United States or otherwise ineligible for a visa. She did not share specific details of whose visas had been revoked.

Click here to read more. 

September 8, 2020

VOA News

U.S. officials are considering broader restrictions against Chinese students attending American schools, as part of a deepening standoff between the two countries. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hopes that China’s government-funded “Confucius Institutes,” which have branches on American university campuses, will all be shut down by the end of the year. “I think everyone’s coming to see the risk associated with them,” Pompeo said in an interview with the Fox Business Network, accusing the Chinese-government funded institutes of working to recruit “spies and collaborators” at U.S. colleges. The crackdown may also target Chinese academics who have relied on state funding for their overseas studies. On August 26, the University of North Texas (UNT) terminated an exchange program for 15 visiting Chinese researchers sponsored by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), a group backed by China’s Ministry of Education.

Click here to read more.

August 17, 2020

U.S. News

BEIJING (Reuters) - A retired Chinese professor who called President Xi Jinping a "mafia boss" and the ruling Communist Party a "political zombie" has been disciplined, according to her former employer, the latest such critic to face punishment in recent months.

Cai Xia, who had taught democratic politics at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party before retiring, is the third prominent figure in recent months to be disciplined after criticising the party and its leader.

The school, which trains rising officials destined for promotion, announced on Monday that it had rescinded Cai's Communist Party membership and retirement benefits for making remarks that "had serious political problems and damaged the country's reputation".

Click here to read more. 

June 25, 2020

Center for Immigration Studies

Last August, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) published my report "How U.S. Foreign Student and Exchange Visitor Policies Undercut National Security", outlining how foreign students and exchange scholars from certain countries — predominantly, but not exclusively, the People's Republic of China (PRC) — represent an extraordinary risk to the United States through their extracurricular espionage activities.1 This was not the first time the general issue was addressed, although it was the most specific and detailed. The Backgrounder laid out a number of steps that might be taken to lessen the risk and safeguard critical American defense, security, industrial, and trade secrets.

Click here to read more. 

June 25, 2020

Lawrence Journal World

A Kansas researcher accused of concealing work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas defrauded the U.S. government and the university, according to revised federal charges filed Thursday. The new indictment charges Feng “Franklin” Tao of Lawrence with seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. It also seeks, if convicted, the forfeiture of funds obtained from the offenses. “Franklin Tao is not guilty of these charges, and looks forward to being fully vindicated so that he can move on with his life and his research,” defense attorney Peter Zeidenbert said in an email.

Click here to read more. 

June 23, 2020

FedScoop

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency — the office that handles federal background checks — is touting a mobile app intended to educate people about detecting insider threats. The app, named Insider Threat Sentry or InT Sentry, allows users to access videos, infographics and general news about insider threat detection. The app is available on the public app store for iOS and Android, and it arrives as Department of Defense officials have shown an elevated interest in fighting insider threats, which can range from physical attacks to quiet cybersecurity incidents. The department named last September as “insider threat awareness month.”

Click here to read more. 

June 18, 2020

The Epoch Times

A bipartisan Senate coalition introduced legislation June 18 designed to put an end to “nearly two decades” of federal officials being “asleep at the wheel” as China stole valuable U.S. knowledge and technology to build up its economy and military. The Safeguarding American Innovation Act’s chief co-sponsors are Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), who together have led a two-year investigation of Chinese commercial, academic, and technological espionage against the United States. Portman is chairman of the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, while Carper is the most senior Democratic member.

Click here to read more. 

June 16, 2020

The Harvard Crimson

Former Harvard Chemistry department chair Charles M. Lieber pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he lied to federal investigators about research funding he received from China. Lieber, who was indicted on two counts of making false statements last week, appeared via video-conference before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in Massachusetts District Court. “This case is not about China or allegedly false statements,” Marc L. Mukasey, Lieber’s attorney, wrote in an email Tuesday. “Academic freedom is at stake here. Scientists and professors should stand with Charlie in this battle.”

Click here to read more. 

June 15, 2020

Austin American Statesman

Administrators with the University of Texas System say they did not wrongfully withhold information from federal authorities regarding a relationship with a Chinese laboratory being investigated for ties to the coronavirus. In April, officials at the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken requesting the system turn over all documentation of a relationship between the system and a maximum biocontainment laboratory, or MCL, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Federal law requires U.S. universities to report gifts, contracts, and/or restricted and conditional gifts or contracts from or with a foreign source totaling more than $250,000. According to the department, since 2014, UT system has reported 24 contracts with various Chinese state-owned universities, but agency officials said they suspected the system had not fully reported a relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Click here to read more. 

June 12, 2020

Science

Some 54 scientists have resigned or been fired as a result of an ongoing investigation by the National Institutes of Health into the failure of NIH grantees to disclose financial ties to foreign governments. In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution. The new numbers come from Michael Lauer, NIH’s head of extramural research. Lauer had previously provided some information on the scope of NIH’s investigation, which had targeted 189 scientists at 87 institutions. But his presentation today to a senior advisory panel offered by far the most detailed breakout of an effort NIH launched in August 2018 that has roiled the U.S. biomedical community, and resulted in criminal charges against some prominent researchers, including Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s department of chemistry and chemical biology.

Click here to read more. 

June 11, 2020

Inside Higher Ed

Cybercriminals have found a new way to extort universities -- stealing sensitive information and then threatening to share it on the dark web unless a bounty is paid. Three institutions were successfully targeted by hackers using this approach in the past two weeks. The first was Michigan State University, then the University of California, San Francisco, and, most recently, Columbia College Chicago. None of the institutions have shared how much ransom was requested. All were targeted using malicious software known as NetWalker and given a deadline of six days to pay.

Click here to read more. 

June 11, 2020

CNBC

Video-calling service Zoom said Thursday it will not comply with requests from the Chinese government to suspend hosts or block people from meetings if those people are not located in mainland China. It’s Zoom’s latest reaction to pressure amid a surge of popularity this year as the coronavirus sent people home from school and work. First, Zoom faced concerns about security and privacy as issues like lewd interruptions to meetings and security vulnerabilities became apparent, and the company took steps to address them. Earlier this month, U.S.-based civil-rights group Humanitarian China, founded by protest participant Zhou Fengsuo, said that the organization’s Zoom account was shut down following an event commemorating the 1989 protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which the Chinese government forbids citizens from observing. On Wednesday, Zoom acknowledged it had shut down the account, then later reinstated it.

Click here to read more. 

June 09, 2020

Medium

As we fight to keep America safe, healthy, and economically stable during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one certainty: our success depends on science. When faced with a challenge, America’s scientists and engineers have always answered the call and the current crisis is no different. When COVID-19 reached the U.S., they immediately pivoted to apply their knowledge and resources to fight this virus. Universities have devoted engineering departments to 3D print personal protective equipment (PPE), developed inexpensive ventilators and self-sterilizing equipment, and repurposed veterinary labs to process COVID-19 tests. Our federal science agencies have been just as responsive, using unique capabilities at agencies as diverse as the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to fight a common cause.

Click here to read more. 

June 09, 2020

National Archives CUI Program Blog

When working with CUI, it is required you establish a controlled environment that will safeguard CUI. This means not just using information systems that have the necessary safeguards in place, it also means being aware of the other potential risks to CUI such as the presence of microphones and cameras in our homes. The microphones and cameras on our computers and mobile devices (phones and tablets) could place CUI at risk.  If it is an electronic device it can be hacked, if it connects to the internet it can be hacked remotely. What level of safeguarding do you have on your devices with microphones and cameras?

Click here to read more. 

June 3, 2020

The Hill

Christopher Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency, said in an interview released this week that he expects to see "every intelligence service" attempt to target and steal COVID-19 research and data. "We do expect every intelligence service to be in the mix here," Krebs, who serves as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said on an episode of CBS's "Intelligence Matters" podcast published Wednesday. "The Chinese have obviously been one of the more brazen in terms of their approach, but others are in the game, too," Krebs said. "This is a very active space, very active space."

Click here to read more. 

June 5, 2020

National Review

If you have never heard of Qian Xueshen (1911–2009), you should learn his story. Qian was born in China and came to the U.S. in 1935. After receiving a Masters in mechanical engineering at MIT, Qian went to pursue a Ph.D. at CalTech. There, Qian became the mentee of renowned mathematician, Professor Theodore von Karman — a leading aerospace engineer and physicist — who esteemed Qian as a genius. During World War II, Qian joined the Manhattan Project. His talent helped the U.S. build the world’s first atomic bomb, and ultimately, win the war.

Click here to read more. 

June 1, 2020

Forbes

On May 29, 2020, Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation aimed at restricting the entry of graduate students and researchers from China. It is the latest immigration action to make it more difficult for foreign-born individuals to live, work or study in the United States. In the 2018-19 academic year, there were 272,470 undergraduate and graduate students from China enrolled at U.S. universities, 84,480 of whom were in a graduate-level science and engineering program, according to the Department of Homeland Security. China is the number one source of international students to the United States.

Click here to read more. 

May 28, 2020

The New York Times

The Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, according to American officials with knowledge of the discussions. The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, over all, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States.

Click here to read more. 

March 28, 2020

National Review

The Trump administration is planning to expel several thousand Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to Chinese universities affiliated with that country’s military, the New York Times reported on Thursday. The proposed expulsion would affect roughly 3,000 individuals, a small percentage of the 360,000 Chinese students currently in the U.S. American institutions may push back against the order because Chinese students generally pay full tuition for their degrees.

Click here to read more. 

May 28, 2020

The Published Reporter

When scientist Hongjin Tan resigned from the Oklahoma petroleum company he’d worked at for 18 months, he told his superiors that he planned to return to China to care for his aging parents. He also reported that he hadn’t arranged his next job, so the company agreed to let him to stay in his role until his departure date in December 2018. But Tan told a colleague a different story over dinner. That conversation prompted Tan’s employer to ask him to leave the firm immediately—and then his employer made a call to the FBI tip line to report a possible crime. The resulting investigation led to Tan’s guilty plea and 24-month prison sentence for stealing proprietary information that belonged to his company.

Click here to read more. 

May 12, 2020

Times Record

A University of Arkansas professor is facing fraud charges after allegedly not disclosing his ties to the Chinese government while applying for federal grant money. Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville was arrested on suspicion of Wire Fraud in connection with the allegations. Ang allegedly had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese companies and failed to disclose those ties when required to do so to receive grant money from NASA. The false representation to NASA and the university of Arkansas, according to a Western District of Arkansas news release. Ang if convicted would face up to 20 years in federal prison. The FBI is investigating the case.

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May 10, 2020

The New York Times

The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic. The warning comes as Israeli officials accuse Iran of mounting an effort in late April to cripple water supplies as Israelis were confined to their houses, though the government has offered no evidence to back its claim. More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses. Even American allies like South Korea and nations that do not typically stand out for their cyberabilities, like Vietnam, have suddenly redirected their state-run hackers to focus on virus-related information, according to private security firms.

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May 5, 2020

Inside Higher Ed

Envied the world over, U.S. institutions of higher learning have taught millions of undergraduate and graduate students, nurtured scores of scientists and entrepreneurs, advanced medical science, and incubated many leading technology companies -- all of which makes them top targets for foreign intelligence services and nongovernmental actors. As America and the world start to reopen for business, and college and university leaders are rightly focused on the safe and healthy reintroduction of students and faculty members to campuses, the perfect opportunity for the resumption -- and, more likely the acceleration -- of widespread academic espionage has materialized. 

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May 2, 2020

The Wall Street Journal

The Education Department has asked the University of Texas System to provide documentation of its dealings with the Chinese laboratory U.S. officials are investigating as a potential source of the coronavirus pandemic. The request for records of gifts or contracts from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its researcher Shi Zhengli, known for her work on bats, is part of a broader department investigation into possible faulty financial disclosures of foreign money by the Texas group of universities. 

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April 29, 2020

The Washington Examiner

Beijing is very likely trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research from the United States, according to the head of the Justice Department’s China Initiative. Jonathan Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, issued stark warnings about China’s long history of economic espionage and cyberattacks during a lengthy online discussion with Strategic News Service’s "FireSide Future In Review" this week, calling it “beyond absurd” for anyone to think that the Chinese Communist Party’s operations would stop during a global pandemic.

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April 24, 2020

National Security Agency Central Security Service

Because of COVID-19, many U.S. Government employees and military service members are working from home to provide continuity of government services. Malicious cyber actors are taking advantage of this. NSA’s recently released Selecting and Safely Using Collaboration Services for Telework, cybersecurity guidance contains a snapshot of current, commercially-available collaboration tools available for use, along with a list of security criteria to consider when selecting which capability to leverage. In addition, the guidance contains a high-level security assessment of how each capability measures up against the defined security criteria, which can be used to more quickly identify the risks and features associated with each tool.

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April 22, 2020

The New York Times

The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country. “They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

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April 18, 2020

Vanguard

The UK is moving to drop Huawei as a vendor for the country’s 5G cellphone network in a major blow to Communist China over poor coronavirus transparency. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, now recovering from COVID-19, gave the Chinese company a role in 5G infrastructure this year, squashing opposition last month by 24 votes in the 650-seat House of Commons. But now, concern about the Chinese Communist Party’s inaccurate reporting on the coronavirus has lawmakers crafting plans for a retreat.

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April 14, 2020

American Military News

The Pentagon has banned most versions of a popular video conferencing application for its personnel after reports surfaced revealing major security issues linked to China. Service members, civilians and contractors can no longer use free versions of Zoom in official capacities, said a Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col Robert Carver, in a statement to Military.com. However, personnel will be allowed to used Zoom for Government, a paid and more secure version of the application, but only for “publicly-releasable DoD information not categorized as For Official Use Only,” Carver said.

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March 21, 2020

University World News

China is today second in the world for research papers published in international journals, behind the United States. Now, after years of demanding researchers publish in international journals, China’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science and Technology released a document aiming to reduce its excessive reliance on the Science Citation Index (SCI) for academic promotions, job offers and allocation of research funding.

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March 17, 2020

Bleeping Computer

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today shared a number of measures that should be taken by remote workers to prevent eavesdropping and protect their privacy during virtual meetings while working from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Jeff Greene, the director of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at the NIST said that "if virtual meetings are not set up correctly, former coworkers, disgruntled employees, or hackers might be able to eavesdrop."

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March 10, 2020

Inside Higher Ed

Sobering warnings have been delivered to the U.S. higher education community over the past several years by national security and law enforcement officials about the threats to campuses from some foreign governments, notably China, seeking to influence, interfere and, in some cases, steal scientific research and intellectual property. Cases have been brought against professors, scholars and students from a variety of institutions across the country -- including but not limited to the University of Texas; the University of California, Los Angeles; the Illinois Institute of Technology; and the University of Kansas. Not all involve foreign nationals, such as the case announced by the FBI involving Charles M. Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, who allegedly lied to both the federal government and his own university about his participation in China's Thousand Talents Plan.

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March 6, 2020

American Institute of Physics

On March 2, the National Science Foundation announced it has agreed with recommendations from the JASON science advisory group on ways to guard against foreign governments exploiting the openness of the U.S. research system. NSF commissioned the JASON study in early 2019 to assess concerns raised by security officials and lawmakers that the Chinese government is unfairly taking advantage of early-stage research and intellectual property produced in the U.S. The JASON panel, comprising an anonymous group of elite scientists, concludes there is legitimacy to concerns about violations of research ethics and lack of reciprocity and transparency, but states the scope and scale of the problem remains “poorly defined.”

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March 2, 2020

Clearance Jobs

Over the past several months Chinese ‘wanderers’ have successfully gained access to and photographed American military installations. One claimed to be a lost tourist, and was picked up wading in the rocks to get around fences at a Florida base. A car of allegedly lost Chinese failed to leave a base once denied entry; they didn’t turn around but continuing on into the compound until apprehended. Another woman was stopped having attempted to access the President’s Mar-a-Lago Resort. Why does this happen, and why with such frequency?  Perhaps history provides clues.

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February 27, 2020

CNBC

A professor at the University of Tennessee has been arrested on charges that he hid his relationship with a Chinese university at the same time he received research grants from the federal government, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Anming Hu, an associate professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering at the university’s flagship Knoxville campus, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

The arrest is part of a broader Justice Department crackdown against university researchers who conceal their ties to Chinese institutions, with a Harvard chemistry professor recently arrested on similar charges. Federal officials have also asserted that Beijing is intent on stealing intellectual property from America’s colleges and universities.

Prosecutors say Hu defrauded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by failing to disclose the fact that he was also a professor at the Beijing University of Technology in China. Under federal law, NASA cannot fund or give grant money to Chinese-owned companies or universities.

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February 26, 2020

Washington Examiner

Chinese intelligence agencies could have access to the most innocent-looking assets in state and local governments around the country: the office printer. “Printers, one of the least secure Internet of Things devices, store sensitive data on internal hard drives derived from the various printing jobs executed on a day-to-day basis,” Roslyn Layton, an American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar and founder of the China Tech Threat, wrote in a report released this week. That observation punctuates a finding that dozens of state and local governments have contracted with two companies that federal officials have flagged as security risks, specifically Lenovo, a cellphone and laptop maker, and Lexmark, a laser printer company. The report demonstrates Beijing’s reach into U.S. society, to the point of alarming federal officials.

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February 24, 2020

Federal News Network

More eyes than normal are on the Defense Department for the next year. It’s not just the usual set of contractors, overseers on Capitol Hill and auditors, and nation state friends and foes. Now there’s a whole community watching how DoD implements the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). Along with the government contractors impacted by the new requirements, civilian agencies and allies like Canada, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom and others are paying close attention to how the Pentagon begins to fix supply chain and other cybersecurity challenges through this new initiative.

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February 20, 2020

Inside Higher Ed

The Department of Education continues to step up its scrutiny of universities receiving foreign gifts and contracts. In going after Harvard and Yale Universities last week, the department sent a clear signal it was serious about enforcing the law, which requires colleges to report all gifts and contracts involving foreign sources valued at $250,000 or more.

The Education Department's new investigations into whether Harvard and Yale comply with reporting requirements follow other investigations launched over the past year into the disclosure of foreign funding at Cornell, Georgetown, Rutgers and Texas A&M Universities as well as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland.

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February 19, 2020

NPR

Until late last month, Charles Lieber lived the quiet life of an elite American scientist. His lab at Harvard University researched things like how to meld tiny electronics with the brain. In his spare time, he grew award-winning pumpkins in front of his house. And then, on January 28, the FBI came knocking on his door. Now Lieber faces charges of trading knowledge for money and lying about it. Prosecutors allege he set up a lab in China in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from the Chinese government, and then denied knowledge of those payments to U.S. investigators.

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February 18, 2020

Politico

A federal judge ruled today that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei does not have grounds to sue the U.S. government over a law restricting its ability to do business with federal agencies and their contractors.

District Judge Amos Mazzant determined that Congress acted within its powers when it passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, including a provision that precludes agencies and contractors from buying certain equipment from Huawei and fellow Chinese networking giant ZTE.

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February 7, 2020

Science Magazine

Researchers in academia and industry who work with Chinese institutions should expect a “spike” in prosecutions this year as a result of a U.S. government initiative to stop economic espionage, say federal prosecutors leading the effort. And although they say the criminal cases could harm potentially useful U.S. collaborations with China, the prosecutors believe they will help deter future problems.

“Some will complain that [the prosecutions] might have a chilling effect on collaboration with the Chinese. The answer to that is—for good and bad reasons—yes, it will,” said Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts, at an event yesterday in Washington, D.C. “China has launched a massive nationwide effort to pilfer U.S. technology and know-how and transfer it to China for its own uses, so unfortunately this kind of response is needed.”

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February 6, 2020

The Boston Globe

The recent arrest of Harvard University chemistry chairman Charles Lieber for concealing his ties to China will help convince the academic community to take intellectual property theft and espionage more seriously, said US Attorney Andrew Lelling during a panel discussion on Thursday.

College and university administrators have been skeptical of the federal government’s warnings that the Chinese government is targeting their faculty and research. Some have questioned whether federal authorities are being paranoid or practicing racial profiling, he said.

“There’s something of a cultural divide,” Lelling said, between law enforcement and academics. “The enforcement side helps. … Once we convince them this is a threat, they’re quite responsive.”

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February 4, 2020

Center for Immigration Studies

On August 20 of last year, the Center published my Backgrounder titled "How U.S. Foreign Student and Exchange Visitor Policies Undercut National Security", in which I argued that current federal policies are so lax that they are nearly an open invitation to foreign intelligence services to steal critical American technologies and secrets; particularly, but not exclusively, involving China. Iran is another active player in theft of U.S. defense material and secrets, and both nations send thousands of students and exchange scholars each year to the United States.

I suggested that there are a number of pathways available to tighten those policies — things that could be achieved using federal regulations instead of relying on the unlikely possibility of congressional action to amend relevant statutes. Many of these regulatory fixes involve State Department visa processes, and existing rules overseen by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Other fixes suggested involve key departments such as Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE) using their powers to establish virtual defensive perimeters around key research centers, especially at universities where atmospheres can be so lax as to nearly guarantee a bleed-out of critical pieces of sensitive information that often end up in the collection nets of those foreign intelligence agencies. To date, nothing's been done.

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February 4, 2020

NBC News

A former Emory University neuroscientist who was fired last year after the university alleged he failed to disclose income from China is facing a criminal charge, court records show.

The federal charge against Xiojiang Li, alleging theft of grant funds, spotlights a new federal effort to combat Chinese economic espionage on university campuses. Li was a member of the Thousand Talents plan, a Chinese recruitment program that a Senate report last year said was designed to steal sensitive research.

The charge was filed in November but not announced. George Washington University's Seamus Hughes, who closely scrutinizes federal court records, unearthed the case Tuesday.

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District Court, N.D. Georgia: Case Number: 1:19-MJ-1007

February 2, 2020

NBC News

It was a brazen scheme to steal another company's product, according to a federal criminal complaint. University of Texas professor Bo Mao, prosecutors say, took proprietary technology from an American Silicon Valley start-up and handed it over to a subsidiary of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications conglomerate. But what makes the case against Mao particularly noteworthy is how he was accused of carrying out the theft: By using his status as a university researcher to obtain the circuit board under the guise of academic testing.

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January 31, 2020

National Defense Industrial Association Magazine

The Defense Department unveiled its plans Jan. 31 for implementing a new set of cybersecurity standards that companies must eventually adhere to if they want to do business with the Pentagon. Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification version 1.0, or CMMC, is an effort to prod the defense industrial base to better protect its networks and controlled unclassified information against cyberattacks and theft by foreign adversaries such as China. “Adversaries know that in today's great power competition environment, information and technology are both key cornerstones [of national security], and attacking a sub-tier supplier is far more appealing than a prime,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told reporters at the Pentagon.

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January 31, 2020

The Harvard Crimson

A federal judge set bail for Harvard Chemistry department chair Charles M. Lieber — who is charged with concealing funding he received from the Chinese government — at $1 million in cash in a hearing Thursday afternoon. Lieber — a renowned nanoscientist who holds the esteemed title of University Professor at Harvard — was arrested on Tuesday morning and charged with lying to federal investigators about his involvement with China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a program initiated in 2008 to attract overseas researchers. The plan was labeled as a national security and economic threat by United States Senate committees.

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January 28, 2020

NBC

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a top Harvard University scientist with lying to the Department of Defense about his work for a Chinese-run talent recruitment program.

Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, allegedly violated federal law by not disclosing his involvement in China's Thousand Talents Plan to the Defense Department, including money he received, according to the charging document.

"The charges brought by the U.S. government against Professor Lieber are extremely serious," Harvard said in a statement. "Harvard is cooperating with federal authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, and is initiating its own review of the alleged misconduct."

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January 25, 2020

Washington Examiner

American hospitals and universities need to be alert for Chinese espionage operations targeting sensitive research, according to a trio of Republican senators. “Every hospital, business, and university in our nation needs to be vigilant and proactive about this risk,” Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, two Florida Republicans, warned in a letter signed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. The three lawmakers issued that warning in response to a scandal at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida last month, when six researchers were fired for secretly participating in a program that federal investigators regard as an unconventional Chinese intelligence-gathering operation. China hawks regard innovation and new technology as one of the main arenas for an intensifying geopolitical competition between Washington and Beijing.

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January 24, 2020

Santa Fe New Mexican

A former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist accused of lying about his contact with a Chinese recruitment program pleaded guilty Friday to one count of making a false statement to the U.S. government. Turab Lookman of Santa Fe accepted the plea as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors that includes dismissal of two other charges. Lookman will be sentenced at a later date, probably within 60 to 90 days, federal prosecutor George C. Kraehe said. He could face up to five years in federal prison and be fined as much as $250,000.

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January 21, 2020

Inside Higher Ed

The University of Missouri at Columbia recently announced it would close its Confucius Institute, joining the long and growing list of American universities that are cutting ties with their institutes. Administrators at the University of Missouri said they were doing so after running afoul of U.S. Department of State policies on visas. About two dozen colleges have announced the closure of a Confucius Institute over the past two years as political pressures over the Chinese government-funded institutions for language and culture education have intensified. Like many Confucius Institutes, Missouri’s is involved in outreach to K-12 schools; it places visiting Chinese teachers in local K-12 schools.

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January 16, 2020

Science

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has drawn up a list of technologies it may not want agency scientists to share with researchers from a handful of other countries. But that list has yet to be put to use, says Chris Fall, head of DOE’s Office of Science. Appearing yesterday before the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Fall shed new light on how the 10 DOE national laboratories he oversees are trying to prevent foreign governments from taking advantage of the traditionally open U.S. scientific enterprise. DOE officials have spoken publicly before about creating a “technology risk matrix” to shape interactions with four countries—China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea—deemed to pose a threat to U.S. national security. But they have been cagey about how—or even whether—that matrix is being used.

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January 16, 2020

AP News

A Kansas associate professor concealed work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas and tried to recruit other researchers and students for the Chinese government, according to revised federal charges filed Wednesday. An extensively detailed superseding indictment charges Feng “Franklin” Tao, 47, of Lawrence, Kansas, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose on conflict-of-interest forms the work he was doing for China while employed as a full-time associate professor at the University of Kansas’ Center for Environmental Beneficial Catalysis. Prosecutors said some of the Tao’s research at the Kansas university was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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January 15, 2020

WCJB News

Four University of Florida faculty member are out of a job after an investigation got underway exploring whether US research is being compromised by China. The University of Florida says the employees failed to disclose their involvement with foreign talent programs. This comes after the National Institutes of Health expressed concerns that foreign governments were trying to influence US research. Three people have resigned and one part-time researcher was fired.

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January 13, 2020

Daily Mail

The United States Government is to clip the wings of its civilian drone program amidst continuing fears China could co-opt the tech to conduct espionage. Part of the 810-strong drone fleet — used for such diverse tasks as monitoring endangered species and mapping landscapes — was made by Chinese firm DJI. The move — which will likely see the drones only fly in emergencies, such as to aid firefighting efforts — builds on the temporary ban that began in October 2019.

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January 13, 2020

ZD Net

An online group of cyber-security analysts calling themselves Intrusion Truth have doxed their fourth Chinese state-sponsored hacking operation.

"APT groups in China have a common blueprint: contract hackers and specialists, front companies, and an intelligence officer," the Intrusion Truth team said. "We know that multiple areas of China each have their own APT."

APT is an acronym used in the cyber-security field. It stands for Advanced Persistent Threat and is often used to describe government-sponsored hacking groups.

After previously exposing details about Beijing's hand in APT3 (believed to operate out of the Guangdong province), APT10 (Tianjin province), and APT17 (Jinan province), Intrusion Truth have now begun publishing details about China's cyber apparatus in the state of Hainan, an island in the South China Sea.

APT40 RECRUITMENT MANAGED BY A LOCAL PROFESSOR

In a second blog post published over the weekend, Intrusion Truth said it was able to links some of these companies to a professor in the Information Security Department at the Hainan University.

In fact, one of the 13 front companies they identified was headquartered in the University's library.

This professor was also a former member of China's military, Intrusion Truth said.

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January 12, 2020

The World University Rankings

Since the implementation of China’s national strategy to build world-class universities in 1998, the country has rapidly increased its output of scientific papers. According to the US National Science Foundation’s 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report, China published more than 426,000 studies in 2016, accounting for 18.6 per cent of the publications indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus database. This means that China has surpassed the US to become the world’s largest producer of research papers.

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January 10, 2020

University World News

Academic experts say universities in Western democracies should review their engagements with universities in China to gauge whether dramatically tightened restrictions and recent Communist Party-imposed reviews of Chinese university charters – aimed at reducing commitments to freedom of thought – are eroding academic freedom standards outside China. Several universities in China have deleted a commitment to ‘freedom of thought’ and have prioritized patriotism over academic independence in newly amended charters in recent months.

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January 10, 2020

NBC News

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is warning international students that federal immigration officials may visit their work sites to verify that their employment is directly related to their studies. School officials sent a memo to faculty on Thursday saying the Department of Homeland Security has been making site visits to employers of foreign students in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The school is notifying students separately and telling them what to expect from the visits. MIT spokeswoman Kimberly Allen said the memo was not prompted by any visit to the institute.

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January 10, 2020

NPR

The White House announced Friday it is imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran, including officials in the Iranian government.

The penalties, promised earlier this week by President Trump, "will cut off billions of dollars of support to the Iranian regime," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The restrictions are a response to Iran's missile attack on Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq, where U.S. and coalition service members are stationed. There were no injuries in the attack, but some of its facilities were damaged.

Iran fired the missiles after the U.S. killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.

Speaking in the White House press briefing room alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mnuchin said Trump is issuing an executive order authorizing sanctions against "any individual owning, operating, trading with or assisting sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles and mining."

In addition, Mnuchin outlined 17 specific sanctions against Iran's largest steel and iron manufacturers, along with three entities based in the Seychelles and a vessel involved in the transfer of products.

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January 09, 2020

Science

Florida lawmakers have begun an investigation into the foreign ties of researchers at the state’s universities and research institutions. The inquiry, the first of its kind at the state level, dovetails with an ongoing federal probe into whether such affiliations, notably with Chinese entities, pose a risk to the U.S. research enterprise. The Florida effort is triggered by revelations last month that six scientists at the Moffitt Cancer Center had been dismissed for failing to disclose their participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program. The researchers include the center’s CEO, Alan List, and the head of its research center, Thomas Sellers.

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January 3, 2020

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration took measures on Friday to crimp exports of artificial intelligence software as part of a bid to keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of rival powers like China.

Under a new rule which goes into effect on Monday, companies that export certain types of geospatial imagery software from the United States must apply for a license to send it overseas except when it is being shipped to Canada.

“They want to keep American companies from helping the Chinese make better AI products that can help their military,” said James Lewis, a technology expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

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December 31, 2019

The New York Times

Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside. Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, 29, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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December 31, 2019

NPR

The Mueller investigation and the impeachment inquiry dominated headlines in 2019 — overshadowing the Justice Department's efforts on another national security front: combating Chinese espionage.

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December 25, 2019

The Epoch Times

National security concerns are prompting tighter investment screening as numerous countries introduce new regulatory frameworks that focus on foreign buyers, particularly Chinese state-backed firms. Almost 12 percent of global foreign direct investment was blocked in 2018 because of national security concerns, according to a study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

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December 20, 2019

Science

U.S. policymakers are making headway on the thorny question of how to deal with foreign threats to U.S. research. Congress has created two new panels to wrestle with the topic and an influential panel has recommended steps that the National Science Foundation (NSF) should take. But there is no consensus on the core issue of whether protecting national security and U.S. innovation requires new restrictions on basic research.

Concern is rising across the U.S. government that foreign entities, especially the Chinese government and affiliated institutions, are making systematic efforts to steal the fruits of U.S.-funded research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has led the charge among federal funding agencies by cracking down on grantees who have failed to disclose foreign ties or have violated the confidentiality of peer review. NIH has examined 140 such cases to date, says Michael Lauer, head of NIH's Office of Extramural Research in Bethesda, Maryland, and has found “a substantial compliance issue” in 75% of them.

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December 16, 2019

Breaking Defense

“I would rather not have to shove this down industry’s throat,” the director of the Protecting Critical Technology Task Force told me here. “I would rather this be a conversation than direction, but we’ve unfortunately seen over the years … if there’s no repercussions to not having security, there’s no incentive to have it.” “We haven’t really held them to account. Our data that’s been exfiltrated by adversaries over decades, it’s really no harm, no foul,” Maj. Gen. Thomas Murphy told me. “I don’t blame them, [but] now we’re going to provide that incentive.”

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December 13, 2019

The Hill

Policymakers have singled out the higher education system as a critical area of vulnerability in American society. Christopher Wray memorably stated before the Senate Judiciary Committee that China now poses a “whole of society” threat to the United States. Reports on the trove of federal investigations into the Chinese theft of research from American medical schools is the latest confirmation of how pervasive the risk is. Yet there is a fundamental disconnect between the way policymakers in Washington and university administrators across the country think and write about Chinese students in the United States. The proliferation of cultural education programs funded by the Chinese government along with other national security concerns have put policymakers on defense. American government policies and messaging have rightly focused on rooting out malign foreign influences on campuses and developing more targeted student visa screening processes to guard against espionage.

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