World-renowned scientist at the center of a dispute between China and the United States

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On Tuesday, US chemist Charles Lieber, a world-renowned scientist specializing in nanotechnology, Was found guilty A Boston court has ruled that he hid his business dealings with the Chinese government. The sentence will be decided in the coming weeks, but Lieber will have to spend years in prison. Lieber’s case has been pursued by the U.S. scientific community for some time, and it could have implications for the freedoms traditionally guaranteed for academic research.

Lieber, 62, is on leave from the Department of Chemistry at Harvard University, where he is considered one of the leading contenders for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research over the years.

His problems began in 2018 when he was questioned by Justice Department officials about his relationship with Wuhan University in China and his participation in a controversial Chinese government program to fund foreign academics. The event of a thousand talents (TTP), started in 2008 and is still active.

It is not illegal in the United States to associate with a Chinese university and participate in the TPP. However, in 2018, the Donald Trump administration launched an operation China Initiative, To control these relations more strictly: in fact, it has forced dozens of top scientists to clearly declare their relationship with China. Even today, the US government maintains it China Initiative It is an act of transparency and national security that helps prevent strategic information and expertise from ending up in Chinese hands.

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In 2018, agents from the Department of Justice twice, and in 2020, the FBI, the United States’ internal intelligence agency, interrogated Liber twice. On all three occasions he tried to downplay his relationship with Wuhan University, denying that he had participated in the TPP program.

However, as the trial showed, U.S. officials found that Lieber had been in agreement with Wuhan University for several years. In 2012, he signed a three-year contract that guarantees a monthly salary of up to $ 50,000, or about ആയി 44,000, as well as a $ 158,000 bonus and a $ 1.5 million loan to open a laboratory. Wuhan. Prosecutors for Prosecution They also pointed out Lieber received a portion of his salary in a cash-filled briefcase and neither his salary from Wuhan University nor his account opened with a Chinese bank were recorded in the 2013 and 2014 tax returns.
Following the discovery, he admitted that the evidence against him was “excessive” and that in 2018 he lied to agents of the Department of Justice.

His lawyers argue that Lieber did nothing wrong, except for a quick tax evasion, and that the government treated him unnecessarily violently. “No victims, no one lost money, no one got rich, but in a matter of seconds the world’s greatest nanoscientist was convicted of various crimes,” Liber’s lawyer Mark Mukase said in his final speech.

Science He points out Liber has never been charged with intellectual property theft, and that is a crime China Initiative Must serve to resist. He was formally accused of concealing ties with Wuhan University and lying to agents who were looking for him: in other cases, according to Lieber followers, he would have gone largely unnoticed.

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“In the absence of evidence of more serious violations, Labor became the subject of a misleading government campaign that criminalized his actions,” his 40 colleagues wrote in a letter to the Justice Department in March urging the state to withdraw the charges against him. . “Charlie spent his life helping the world, and a bunch of people who didn’t understand how science works wiped it all out.” He said Al New York Times Brian Timco is a former Labor student who now works at Tufts University in Boston.

In the opinion of many academics, the point is precisely this: the US government’s overly aggressive attitude towards scientists collaborating with China jeopardizes the transfer of fundamental ideas, contacts and stimuli to academic research. The relationship between the US and the Chinese scientific community is very strong in other respects: Second An analysis from 2018In 2019, 9 percent of scientific studies produced by Chinese institutes and 9 percent in the US were co-authors of US and Chinese scientists, respectively.

Kei Koizumi, a former associate of the National Science and Technology Council during the Barack Obama administration in 2020; He said A Nature Many U.S. scientists now believe that collaborating with Chinese colleagues does not deserve to be investigated by U.S. authorities. “No one wants such difficulties when doing research,” Koizumi explained.

There are fears that the US government’s aggression may have a racial component: According to a recent analysis MIT Technology Review Emerging from about 77 judicial cases China Initiative, About 90 percent of the accused are of Chinese descent (denied by the US government) China Initiative There are reasons of this kind).

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China is trying to gain its advantage by arguing that the trial against Lieber is purely political. Recently the China Daily, An English language newspaper controlled by the Chinese government, He pointed out How the scientific community opposes such initiatives China Initiative.

Lieber did not release any statements during the trial. In an interview with the FBI in 2020, he said years ago that he was “young and dumb” and sought to motivate his work, and hoped that by increasing his academic collaboration he would have a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize.

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