Academic Engagement

China Espionage in Universities


Most people are not aware that China reportedly sends “STUDENTS” to the U.S. to OVERTLY participate in various educational courses, and COVERTLY their main purpose is to participate in stealing research and trade secrets. Other individuals could participate in espionage over a longer period of time. There are many fields that may be the targets of Chinese espionage at Universities, below I will give a very real Pharmacology research example.



1. GIVEN: Drug companies need independent testing of their experimental drugs, and frequently give Universities large grants to test drugs in novel ways (I have personal/first-hand experience with this).

2. A Chinese Principle Investigator in a U.S. University writes a grant proposal to test a new blood pressure drug) from a major U.S. drug company. The lab contains 3 Chinese employees, 2 Chinese students, and 1 Pilipino student. The University department Chair makes the contract happen, because the department typically (gets to keep) a quarter of the grant money.

3. The experimental drug arrives at the lab, and two days after the drug arrives, the Principle Investigator has her “Parents” come from China, and GIVES THEM A “TOUR” OF THE LAB.

4. That day, everyone was to go to lunch while the tour is happening.

5. CLUE: Someone notices the Principle Investigator was walking in the hallway with the “parents” (who looked to be about the same age as my Principle Investigator).

6. CLUE: One of the lab employees notices (through the glass refrigerator door) that the experimental drug package had been opened (DURING THE “TOUR”).

7. WHAT NEXT??? Hypothetically, the Chinese “parents” could then take the stolen experimental pharmaceutical to a Confusions Institute or Chinese restaurant that has covert operatives awaiting the drug. The drug is shipped with Chinese food to the Caribbean, (conveniently within a temperature controlled cooler). A transshipping array proceeds to ship the drug back to China, under different names to a different country, and finally to China.



=>Was the experimental drug stolen?

=>Was that the Principle Investigator’s actual Chinese parents, or were they Chinese smugglers?

=>Who else (e.g. of the Chinese employees) in the lab may be participating in theft of trade secrets?

=>How do you verify, mitigate, and thwart such challenging problems (especially if DHS must critically rely upon Academia whom seem to be willfully trusting and naïve to these issues)?

=>Does the ever growing Chinese global supply chain make it more challenging to capture the stolen drug before it leaves the country?



We all need to be on the same page CHINA WANTS THEIR OWN PRODUCTS TO DOMINATE THE MARKET PLACE, THEY HAVE OVERT GOALS TO DOMINATE WORLD TRADE, THEY ARE TAKING ACTIVE MEASURES TO STEAL TRADE SECRETS FROM THE U.S AND ELSEWHERE, AND DO NOT CARE ABOUT INTERNATIONAL LAWS (they just pretend to). These situations seem to be incredibly difficult to gain traction on (with only weak clues available after the fact), and especially if one can only act within the rule of law (probable cause) - the above hypothetical would result in nearly all pharmacology secrets being vulnerable to theft. China’s expansion of ports and use of transshipping is an indicator of their ambitions to increase the scale of operations (whatever that might be). In this hypothetical, the experimental drug is shipped to another country, and then to China (transshipping, with no paper trail from port of origin), which is exactly how activities stay off the grid - importing and exporting all sorts of items against regulations as we have seen (e.g. the same way China cheats on fake Honey, garlic, inferior Steel, and their counterfeit goods industry).



1. REGULATION: Just as a Presidential directive PDD-8 strength resiliency and security measures against terrorism, cyber and other issues, I suggest additional directives targeting theft of trade secrets (including at Universities).

2. VIDEO EVIDENCE REGULATION: Researchers, can easily videotape every time they take a dose from an experimental drug and give it to an experimental animal (then there is a precise record of where the drug went and how it was used). This process can be mandatory, and is also a good practice to validate experimental results at any time in the future.

3. RESEARCH LABS CAN BE BONDED $: Threat of loss of a large bond is a sure way to inspire vigilance and compliance in those researchers who are receiving experimental drugs (to guard against theft).

4. NEW EDUCATION INITIATIVES: Education and training of staff who are in contact with trade secrets of any kind, can be mandatory.

5. SCREENING POINTS OF VULNERABILITY: Active surveillance measures can be used to verify certain lab, shipping, and travel activities.

6. ANTI-SMUGGLER ACTIONS: Shippers and distributers should post a large bond $ with a global shipping authority at the World Bank, and if they are caught smuggling, adulterating contents, or changing records (origin-destination), they lose their bond.

7. NEW INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES: Active research to evaluate mechanisms by which China creates their covert and clandestine supply chains (especially in the southern hemisphere.

8. SCREENING FUTURE PRODUCTS: Monitor and test the market place for Chinese drugs that have a compound signature similar to U.S. pharmaceuticals.


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Idea No. 349