Posted: April 16, 2020 by Kelly Murphy-Redd

Last month I wrote about our dependence on China for 80 percent of our antibiotics.
I made the case the United States should have health and medical independence. We can’t remain in such a vulnerable position. We now have energy independence. We were totally dependent on OPEC countries and Russia. Both energy and health are national security issues, economic issues and should be economic development priorities.

This month I’m focusing on the Chinese government stealing secrets and intellectual property from the U.S. I’m not trying to be political here but just present facts that have been investigated and reported. There are other countries that pose a threat to the U.S. in various ways. Obviously, China has been at the forefront of current events with the pandemic but it has also been also been in the news regarding stealing U.S. information.

As China tries to position itself as a humanitarian influence during the current pandemic, some countries discover equipment sent to them from China is defective. I mentioned last month reports China has been exporting faulty products. To say there are trust issues would be an understatement. There are numerous reports of bad information coming out of China regarding Coronavirus.

Evidence points to the virus beginning in Wuhan in November of 2019. As late as January 19th, the Chinese National Health Commission declared the virus “still preventable and controllable.” The World Health Organization declared “Not enough is known to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, the extent to which it has spread, or its source, which remains unknown.”

On January 20th, The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission declared, “no related cases were found among the close contacts.” That day, the head of China’s national health commission team confirmed two cases of infection in China’s Guangdong province had been caused by human-to-human transmission and medical staff had been infected.

Information coming out of China regarding the pandemic is obviously causing concern but our information being sent to China is also a continuing concern.

The Washington Post, NY Post, CNN and others reported, in January of this year, Harvard professor Dr. Charles Lieber was federally indicted for lying about his involvement with the Chinese government.

“The complaint alleges that Lieber had lied about his affiliation with the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and a contract he had with a Chinese talent recruitment plan to attract high-level scientists to the country. He was being paid $50,000 per month by the Chinese university and given $1.5 million to establish a nanoscience research lab at WUT.”

“Lieber's research group at Harvard had received over $15 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, which requires disclosing foreign financial conflicts of interests.”

“Federal authorities told reporters the cases highlighted the "ongoing threat" posed by China using "nontraditional collectors" like academics and researchers to steal American research and technology.”

According to the reports, a 29-year-old Chinese national, Yanqing Ye, was charged with visa fraud, making false statements, conspiracy and being an unregistered agent. Employed as a scientific researcher at Boston University, Yanqing falsely identified herself as a "student" on her visa application and lied about her military service. During an interview with federal officers, she admitted she held the rank of lieutenant with the People's Liberation Army. Yanqing is accused of accessing US military websites and sending U.S. documents and information to China.

These are just two recent examples out of numerous cases.

The health, economic and national security threats we face must be met with action.
Many bills introduced by elected officials call for holding China accountable for their handling of Coronavirus. Senator Tom Cotton has introduced the “Protecting Our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act.”

White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro is working with the administration on an executive order to eliminate the government’s reliance on foreign-made medical supplies called the “Buy American Order.”

Obviously we must defend our country from all threats. I believe a new industrial revolution of sorts is part of that defense. The United States must manufacture our own medicine and other important products.

As economic developers we encourage and facilitate manufacturing in the United States. In our own community, we are deeply committed and involved in protecting the military mission and national security. The health and safety of our communities are always top economic development priorities. The threat to our national security on all levels is not only an economic development priority but should be a priority of every citizen.

Often good can come out of bad situations. I hope recent events are a catalyst for real, positive and lasting change.