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Revised Initiative

The US Department of Justice plans to revise its China Initiative program, the New York Times reports.

The program was launched in 2018 during the Trump Administration to root out national security threats raised by China, the Times notes, but it has been criticized for racial profiling for targeting Chinese and Chinese-American researchers. At the same time, many of the cases pursued have focused on researchers failing to disclose positions held at Chinese universities while applying for grants or visas, rather than instances of economic espionage, as the Wall Street Journal has reported. Anming Hu, a nanotechnology researcher, was acquitted on charges of wire fraud and making false statements, while prosecutors dropped charges against Gang Chen, a mechanical engineering professor. Charles Lieber, though, was found guilty of failing to disclose payments he received from the Chinese government.

According to the Times, the program changes will include altering its focus on academic researchers who fail to disclose affiliations with Chinese institutions. In particular, it says that grant fraud cases will be treated as civil, rather than criminal, matters going forward and that the DoJ will have a new process for determining whether researchers have sufficiently disclosed their affiliations.