UCA Forum: A New Reality Facing Chinese Americans

The much-anticipated forum on the new reality facing Chinese Americans during China-US conflicts has successfully wrapped up. UCA/UCA-IL, along with CLUSA, Committee of 100, and SixHues, invited a panel consisting of renowned lawyers, FBI investigator, and activists to bring some crucial messages to the Chinese American community.

Data have shown that Chinese Americans are being a more scrutinized ethnic group under the current administration’s policies. Some policies in China such as the “1000-person Plan”, does not help, especially when there are existing stereotypes against Chinese. And the lack of experience in sensitive business activities as well as dealing with law enforcement has been an issue as well.

Brian Sun, a distinguished trial lawyer in complex business litigation and white collar criminal defense, emphasized on the importance of being transparent and law-abiding. It is a fact that 22% or suspects of espionage cases are Chinese Americans, who count for only 1.8% of population. It is also a fact that many Chinese Americans unintentionally acted inappropriately or even illegally.

Another lawyer, George Wu, specialized in Intellectual Properties, also called for transparency and full compliance with policies. It is critical to take some time to study the company policies. For example, downloading data to USB, or visiting the company intranet from within China via VPN, could raise some serious eyebrows.

However, the good news is that law protects everyone’s rights, including Chinese Americans. John Huang, lawyer in Chicago, assured the audience that there are only about 100 Chinese Americans currently under investigation of espionage. According to the speaker, Chinese students have not been accused of economic espionage. As to immigration, 90% of EB5 applications still come from Chinese ethnic group. It may be noted, however, that Chinese students and scholars faced generalization as a “counterintelligence risk” by FBI director Chris Ray.

One of the highlights in the Q&A session is the theft of business secrets. Any of the following could count as theft and make it hard to defense: make copy of business secret without approval; obtain and transfer non-public confidential information; disclosure of such secret for the purpose of personal, financial gain, etc.

When it comes to investigation, it is important to clarify why FBI wants to talk with you, and understand that you are not obligated to talk with FBI without a lawyer. Wenho Lee and Sherry Chen, two victims of the espionage accusals, both talked with FBI for a long time without the presence of a lawyer. It is reminded that you have the right to be silent.

A detailed report in Chinese has been published via our WeChat public account. Click to read.