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Wednesday, November 18, 2020
FBI: The Chinese Threat: Chinese Talent Plans Encourage Trade Secret Theft, Economic Espionage
The FBI released the below information:
What are Talent Plans?
Foreign governments sponsor talent recruitment programs,
or talent plans, to bring outside knowledge and innovation back to their
countries—and sometimes that means stealing trade secrets, breaking export
control laws, or violating conflict-of-interest policies to do so.
While various countries use talent plans, the Chinese
government is the most prolific sponsor of these programs—and the United States
is one of China’s main targets.
The U.S. welcomes international collaboration in academic
and scientific research and business development. But American businesses,
universities, and laboratories should understand the potential risks and
illegal conduct incentivized by Chinese talent plans and take steps to
safeguard their trade secrets and intellectual property.
How Chinese Talent Plans Work
China oversees hundreds of talent plans. All incentivize
its members to steal foreign technologies needed to advance China’s national,
military, and economic goals.
China recruits science and technology professors, researchers,
students, and others—regardless of citizenship or national origin—to apply for
talent plans. Individuals with expertise in or access to a technology that
China doesn’t have are preferred.
Participants enter into a contract with a Chinese
university or company—often affiliated with the Chinese government—that usually
requires them to:
themselves to Chinese laws
technology developments or breakthroughs only with China (they can’t share
this information with their U.S employer or host without special
authorization from China)
other experts into the program—often their own colleagues
China will let people with existing jobs in the United
States participate in talent plans part-time so they can maintain their access
to intellectual property, trade secrets, pre-publication data and methods, and
U.S. funding for their research.
Talent plan participants are offered multiple financial,
personal, and professional benefits in exchange for their efforts.
China’s talent plans have successfully recruited
participants around the world to work on key programs like military
technologies, nuclear energy, wind tunnel design, and advanced lasers.
Risks and Information for U.S. Businesses, Universities, and
Talent plans can sometimes foster legitimate sharing and
collaboration as part of an appropriate business arrangement or research
exchange, but this is not the norm.
Instead, talent plans usually involve undisclosed and
illegal transfers of information, technology, or intellectual property that are
one-way and detrimental to U.S. institutions.
Your students and/or employees could be talent plan
participants. Many people who participate in these programs work at prominent
U.S. laboratories, businesses, and universities, including places where
government research is conducted for sensitive military and scientific projects.
Transparency and disclosure regarding an individual’s
participation in a talent plan are essential. This is the only way U.S. institutions
can assess the risks to their intellectual property, prevent abuse of the open
access offered by the U.S. research environment, and ensure grant-funding
programs are fair and equitable. Unfortunately, many participants do not
disclose their involvement in these programs.
An individual’s undisclosed participation in a talent
to national security because of the participant’s obligation to the
inappropriate use of taxpayer funds if the participant is awarded a U.S.
researchers and scientists by jeopardizing their professional credibility
and their ability to obtain future research funding—and denying them the
professional and financial benefits of their efforts—if their work is
stolen and transferred to China
the recruiting of colleagues by the participant
lasting financial damages to your institution due to stolen information or
the inability to obtain federal research funding in the future
Even if talent plan participants who steal information
are eventually caught and prosecuted, the damage done to your organization by
intellectual property theft may be irreversible.
Risks and Information for Chinese Talent Plan Participants
Although participating in talent plans is not inherently
illegal, you may violate U.S. law, especially if you don’t properly disclose
You should familiarize yourself with and abide by
disclosure and conflict-of-interest rules required by your U.S. employer and
the U.S. government. Transparency and full disclosure of talent plan membership
and foreign contracts or agreements are essential for institutions to assess
You risk criminal prosecution when you steal intellectual
property or misuse grant funds. Talent plan participants have pleaded guilty or
been convicted of offenses including:
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, cyber crime, street crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. His 'On Crime' column appears weekly in the Washington Times and his 'Crime Beat' column appears in Philadelphia Weekly. He is also a regular contributor to Counterterrorism magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and other publications. As a writer, he has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings, visited jails and prisons, and covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. He has interviewed police chiefs, FBI, DEA and other federal agents, prosecutors, public officials, Navy SEALs and other military special operators, Israeli commandos, British Scotland Yard detectives, CIA officers, journalists, novelists and true crime authors, and Cosa Nostra organized crime bosses. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was an aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970. He served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War and he later served two years aboard the Navy harbor tugboat U.S.S. Saugus at the U.S. floating nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian while working part-time as a freelance writer. He became a full-time writer in 2007. You can read his crime columns, crime fiction, book reviews and news and feature articles on this website. You can read his full bio by clicking on the above photo. And you can contact Paul Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org