U.S. accuses Chinese-born researcher at Cleveland Clinic of ties to Chinese spying

WASHINGTON – A Chinese-born ex-Cleveland Clinic employee was arrested for fraud involving US $ 3.6 million in federal grants, the FBI said on Thursday, the latest move in a U.S. crackdown on China’s alleged attempts to end US steal scientific progress.

The FBI and other federal enforcement agencies searched Shaker Heights, Ohio, home of Dr. Qing Wang, and arrested him on false charges and wire fraud on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Wang accepted scholarships from the National Institutes of Health without revealing that he was simultaneously serving as Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. That was contrary to the terms of the exchanges, they said.

They said Wang is a Chinese-born American citizen who specializes in genetics and cardiovascular disease and has been affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1997.

Dr. Wang has deliberately failed to disclose his Chinese exchanges and foreign positions and has even been involved in a ubiquitous pattern of fraud to prevent criminal debt, ”said Eric Smith, chief of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

U.S. investigators say China and its citizens and agents have long made extensive and aggressive efforts to steal unclassified U.S. technology, ranging from military equipment to medical research, but U.S. agencies made a broad attempt to alleged Chinese espionage only in 2018 in the United States.

The FBI claimed that Wang was a participant in the Thousand Talents program, a plan that officials say the Chinese government set up to contact individuals who had access to foreign technology or valuable data.

Investigators said that through Wang’s participation in the program, China has provided $ 3 million in research support to improve facilities and operations at the institutions with which he was affiliated in China.

Wang said he is innocent, said a lawyer.

Dr. Wang is a citizen of the United States, “said lawyer Brandon Henderson in an email. “As we all know, it is believed that innocent is a legal right that our citizens enjoy.”

The Cleveland Clinic said it fired Wang after learning that he had not made public his ties to China.

“Cleveland Clinic has fully cooperated with the NIH and federal law enforcement in conducting their own investigations into these same issues and will continue to do so,” said a statement.

In one of the recent instances where alleged Chinese attempts had been made to steal American technology, a Harvard biology professor was accused in January of lying to the Pentagon and the NIH about his involvement in the program.

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