Case dropped, passport in hand, Chinese scientist flying back to China, headlined the July 23 The Sacramento Bee report on Tang Juan, whose visa fraud case was suddenly dismissed. The surprise move was not a one-off.
As Courthouse News notes, federal prosecutors also dropped visa fraud charges against Chinese nationals Song Chen, a researcher at Stanford, and Wang Xin, who worked at a government lab at the University of California, San Francisco. Other reports said charges had been dropped against five Chinese nationals, citing Tang Juan as the major case.
Tangs attorneys denied that the Chinese regime had paid her legal bills but could not fully explain why the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had dropped the case. Observers may be certain that it had nothing to do with new facts or evidence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had verified Tangs connection to the Chinese military. U.S. Attorneys Phillip Talbert and Heiko Coppola did not show any of this evidence to be false. In similar style, the pair produced no new evidence to show that Tang had answered truthfully instead of lying about her connections to Chinas military. Talbert offered no comment to reporters and Coppola gave no reason for the sudden dismissal. Several reasons are readily evident.
The case against Tang was one of the dozens launched under the Trump administrations 2018 China Initiative to prosecute theft of trade secrets and economic espionage by researchers working secretly for the Chinese military. The current federal administration, headed by Joe Biden, has set about to cancel or reverse most, if not all, of what President Trump accomplished, regardless of its merits, and in full disregard of the facts. The dismissal of the cases was an entirely political action, and there was no tradeoff.
As The Associated Press reported, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said charges against Chinese nationals had been fabricated, but did not make the case that it was so.
Zhao also demanded that the United States, immediately release the person involved and earnestly guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals in the U.S. The United States complied, but in return, China did not offer to drop any charges against Americans or allied nationals accused of offenses in China. The timing was also an issue.
According to Reuters, the dismissal of the cases comes as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was preparing to meet with Chinas State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials. That visit, in turn, could lead to a meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden later this year. During the 2020 campaign, Biden said the Chinese were not bad folks, but his favorable posture toward the communist regime goes back to 2012.
Then Vice President Biden got command of U.S. China policy through the efforts of longtime supporter Tom Donilon, who would serve as national security adviser under President Obama. In 2013, Donilon saw no conflict between a rising power and an established power and contended that a deeper U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue is central to addressing many of the sources of insecurity and potential competition between us.
As Biden said last year, the Chinese are not competition for us. For all but the willfully blind, they are, and another back story is in play.
With their inefficient command economies and top-down control, communist regimes tend to come up short on innovation. If that were not the case, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would have no need to deploy spies to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from the United States. That the CCP does so is beyond dispute.
As Nicholas Eftimiades noted two years ago in Uncovering Chinese Espionage in the US, China had expanded espionage efforts considerably over the past 20 years. Targets include government agencies, private companies, and select universities. China was unlikely to curb espionage efforts because they provide a cost-efficient means to expand the economy, advance research and development, project military power, and meet Chinas stated goal to become a world power, Eftimiades wrote.
The Chinese regime sent Tang Juan and her Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) colleagues to select universities such as UC Davis, UC San Francisco, Stanford, and Duke. The Chinese nationals lied about their connections to the PLA, and the DOJ dropped the case against them, with no new exculpatory evidence. How that action upholds the rule of law or benefits the United States is unclear, but other realities are more certain.
Passport in hand, Tang has now flown safely back to China. Others will soon be flying from China, visas in hand, to select American universities and private companies.