A former professor of Ohio State University pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of transferring U.S.-backed research to China – a “sophisticated scheme” that prosecutors are hoping will land him five years in prison.
The criminal complaint waged against 58-year-old Song Guo Zheng of Hilliard, Ohio, charges him with one count of giving federal investigators false statements regarding questioning over his dealings while working at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center’s Rheumatology and Immunology Division.
Supplying China with U.S.-funded research
After an investigation, it was found that Zheng was working as a secret agent for China.
“He and his research groups secured more than $4.3 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for projects while also receiving funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to a criminal complaint unsealed this year,” The Associated Press reported. “Zheng admitted he lied on applications in order to use the NIH grants to develop China’s expertise in the areas of rheumatology and immunology, the government said.”
It was discovered that all of Zheng’s work in the U.S. was performed for China’s gain.
“Zheng’s plan was to take his research – primarily developed through federal grant funding – back to China in order to benefit China,” the documents stated, according to government documents, as reported by Dispatch.com. “As Defendant Zheng and his superiors in China well-knew, if there was full disclosure of a parallel Chinese operation harvesting resources and talent paid by U.S. taxpayers, the NIH would have never issued the grants in the first place.”
Approximately one week after being questioned by OSU officials regarding his failure to report research support coming from sources outside the university, he fled Ohio.
Zheng was caught and arrested in Alaska by federal agents while trying to flee the U.S. and board a private charter flight to China in May – after his underhanded dealings involving millions of dollars were discovered. Court documents revealed that he was leaving with “three large bags packed for a long – if not permanent – journey,” stuffed with a couple laptops and a few USB drives, along with several bars of silver.
Government sources revealed that Zheng worked at Penn State University and the University of Southern California before he started his new position in Ohio.
“[Zheng was fired after he] failed to disclose his extensive paid work at a foreign institution,” OSU Spokesman Ben Johnson disclosed, according to AP.
Trump tough on China
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has been tough on China after its spread of the coronavirus across the U.S. and the world.
Besides enforcing tariffs and other trade restrictions as part of holding China accountable for the spread of the pandemic, the Trump administration recently put U.S. sanctions against four officials of the communist regime, for its crackdown on free speech.
“The U.S. State Department said Monday the four would be banned from traveling to the U.S. and would have any assets in the country blocked, calling it a response for their roles in implementing Hong Kong’s national security law, which has heavily restricted free speech and opposition politics since its passage in June,” a separate AP report revealed.
The Trump administration has made it clear that the U.S. is no longer going to stand by and do business with a nation that blatantly disregards the human rights of its own people.
“These actions underscore U.S. resolve to hold accountable key figures that are actively eviscerating the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy,” the State Department declared in statement, according to AP.