China has paid more than 7,000 U.S. scientists and other experts over the past decade through its Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) to hand over their research, according to a Senate subcommittee report made public on Nov. 18.
The TTP is only one of about 200 such Chinese “talent recruitment” programs. While being paid by China, these scientists have also received U.S. government funding. U.S. taxpayers have thus spent hundreds of billions to fund research and development that has ended up in China, according to the report.
Congressional aides who briefed reporters on the report gave examples of what TTP-linked scientists have done. In one instance, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy downloaded more than 30,000 files without authorization and took them to China.
In another example, at the National Institutes of Health, a scientist redirected research from a lab in the United States to have it done instead at a Chinese institution.
Sometimes, the scientists have transferred intellectual property to China, while in other instances, they have set up shadow labs in China to simultaneously replicate their U.S.-based work.
Beijing has been even more successful with its “talent recruitment” than it had hoped, according to the aides. While its original goal was to recruit 2,000 U.S. researchers through TTP, it drew more than 7,000 by 2017.
The TTP is closely managed by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Organization Department, which controls the assignments of more than 90 million Party officials at all levels of government.