United Chinese Americans (UCA) commends the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to drop all criminal charges against Dr. Gang Chen, a Chinese American professor at MIT, and yet another victim of the China Initiative. Although Dr. Chen was accused of his relationship with China, in essence he was questioned for his loyalty to America. We believe the DOJ’s decision to drop the case, though long overdue, is right and applaudable. We are happy for Professor Chen’s family and many who care about him and this case.
Professor Chen, like many other professors of Chinese or non-Chinese descent, should not be charged under the China Initiative in the first place, simply because he did not do anything wrong. The DOJ’s China Initiative was set up to catch spies and stop illicit technology transfer or theft of trade secrets. However, in its nearly three years’ operation, the federal law enforcement under the China Initiative has investigated hundreds of Chinese American professors and academics primarily based on their relationship with China, and arrested and charged scores of them by criminalizing what is essentially research integrity or disclosure issues. These issues were in the past administratively dealt with by granting agencies and universities involved. The China Initiative has not only caused fear and chilling effect among the Chinese American academic community but also poisoned America’s research environment, diminishing America’s ability to attract or retain the scientific talents this country desperately needs.
American system of law should never be conveniently exploited or mercilessly abused as such. Selective or overzealous prosecutions under the China Initiative amount to persecutions, which are the antithesis of America’s vaunted rule of law. This is truly Un-American.
UCA has been at the forefront fighting for the civil rights of Chinese Americans ever since the cases of Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi broke out about 7 years ago. UCA calls on the DOJ to continue on the right path and immediately stop prosecuting any and all professors and academics who are charged with research integrity issues alone. Terminate the China Initiative!