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Test of the China Initiative

Science writes that the upcoming trial of Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber will test the US China Initiative.

That program aimed to sniff out instance of economic espionage and research theft in the US by China, but as Science notes, most of nearly two dozen researchers ensnared by the initiative's investigations were not charged with espionage or intellectual property theft. Lieber, for instance, was charged in January 2020 with making false claims about funding he received from China's Thousand Talents Program. Similarly, Anming Hu, a nanotechnology researcher whose case was the first to go to court, was charged with wire fraud and making false statements — charges of which he was acquitted.

Lieber, who has pleaded not guilty, is the next researcher whose case is to head to trial according to Science. It adds that court watchers are wondering how the trial will play out amid increasing calls for the China Initiative to be curbed or even eliminated. Science adds that critics have argued that the errors uncovered in most of the cases should lead to civil or administrative penalties.