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Chinese IP Theft Hits US University

Three Chinese nationals have been accused of accepting bribes from China to disclose private research in magnetic resonance imaging that was being funded by the National Institutes of Health. Details from the New York Times:

The defendants, all Chinese citizens, included Yudong Zhu, 44, of Scarsdale, N.Y., an associate professor in the school’s radiology department who was described by the authorities as “an accomplished researcher and innovator.” He was hired by the university around 2008 to teach and conduct research related to innovations in M.R.I. technology, the authorities said.

After the National Institutes of Health awarded the university millions of dollars over five years to pay for Professor Zhu’s research, he arranged for the two other defendants to move to New York from China to work with him, prosecutors said. He also arranged for them to receive financial support from an executive of the Chinese imaging company who was also affiliated with the government-sponsored institute, officials said.

US security agencies need to make protecting intellectual property and commercial information a priority. The Chinese are clearly engaged in a major program of theft of intellectual property and other acts of commercial espionage. If these defendants are guilty, we should throw the book at them. We need to set an example that will deter others.

There is no need to turn this into a major international crisis, but the US has been doing much too little to prevent and retaliate against this kind of completely unacceptable behavior. The fact that more and more Chinese companies are expanding operations in the US and other countries opens up another appealing option for a response: lawsuits to recover damages from espionage.

We need to make this hurt.

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  • Anthony

    Are there no American reseachers available to do MRI exploration for National Institutes of Health?

  • bpuharic

    As a scientist involved in the semiconductor industry, it appears to me that US companies simply see scientific research as another commodity to be bought and sold. That the Chinese are stealing it shows they value it more highly than our companies do. Bell Labs is dead and even the vaunted IBM research labs are a shadow of what they used to be. It’s pointless to tell young people to go into STEM fields when life long opportunities will dwindle. Will this be a wake up call? Not unless there’s a dollar bill wrapped around it.

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