A pattern of racial profiling against Chinese American scientists began to emerge in 2015.
In a relatively short time span, four naturalized American citizens in three separate situations were indicted for one of most serious crimes related to espionage and trade secrets that carried heavy penalties in prison terms and fines. These individuals worked in diverse fields - private industry, federal government, and academia respectively.
All three cases were subsequently dismissed or dropped without apology or further explanation.
This is highly unusual because the Department of Justice (DOJ) prides itself on its mission of prosecuting criminal cases. Conviction rate is a key measure of success and performance. Annual statistical reports show that the overall DOJ conviction rate in all criminal prosecutions has been over 90% every year since 2001. The rate for espionage-related charges is expected to be much higher than average due to its serious nature and impact on the accused.
A combination of human mistakes, implicit bias, social stigmatism, explicit prejudice, and racial profiling may explain why some of these innocent individuals were wrongly prosecuted in the first place. However, the damages done to them and their families are undeniably devastating.
The legal cost to defend oneself is high, easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Reputations and careers built on many years of accomplishments would be forever lost or stalled in an instant, deeming them to become unemployed and unemployable. The emotional shock and fear leave traumatic scars on the individuals and family members for the rest of their lives.
In effect, an innocent person, once wrongly accused, can seldom be made whole again.
This website dedicates one page each for Sherry Chen and Professor Xiaoxing Xi who are heroically fighting back for justice and fairness. We continue to monitor the progress of their cases. They are the raison d'être for APA Justice.
Dr. Yanping Chen, a Chinese American scientist who was not indicted but under constant surveillance investigation since 2010, represent another innocent victim when confidential investigative information about her was leaked to the press. She filed suit against the government in December 2018. We are closely watching the development of her case. A separate webpage has also been created for her.
There are other individual victims whose cases were also dismissed or found not guilty. Some agreed to much lesser infractions than the original charges to avoid financial ruins. Our nation loses their talents and contributions to the society when they are forced to leave the country. These cases are almost never reported by the government.
If you know of similar cases, please conatct us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Ning Xi (席宁), a Chinese national and a U.S. permanent resident, is a world-renowned robotics expert. He was a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU).
On February 15, 2018, he was arrested and accused of defrauding MSU and IEEE with false expense claims of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After an 8-day trial and a hung jury, the government motioned to dismissed the case. On July 11, the Court ordered dismissal of the case with prejudice.
Read more about this case under Current State.
Dr. Ehab Meselhe is a prominent Egyptian American professor of the Department of River-Coastal Science and Engineering at Tulane University. Mr. Kelin Hu (胡克林) is a computer scientist and research assistant professor at Tulane University who is a U.S. permanent resident born in China.
On May 29, 2019, both men were charged by the U.S. government for trade secret theft (a computer simulation program that models the evolving Mississippi River Delta) and computer fraud (case no. 3:19-cr-00061). The case was dismissed on July 17, 2019 after the government admitted that "it cannot meet its burden of proof in this matter.” A law.com commentary said "prosecutions Don’t Get Much More Pathetic Than This Case." Read more about this case under Current State.
Dr. Xifeng Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. "Historians will have to sort out whether Wu’s story and others like it marked a turning point when U.S. research institutions got serious about China’s avarice for American intellectual property, or a dangerous lurch down the path of paranoia and racial profiling. Or both." Dr. Wu joined Zhejiang University as its Dean of School of Public Health in March 2019, becoming another example of how racial profiling harms the long-term interests of America by forcing talented and renowned scientists, many of them naturalized U.S. citizens, out of the country into the welcoming arms of China.
2019/06/13 Bloomberg Businessweek: The U.S. Is Purging Chinese Cancer Researchers From Top Institutions
Dr. Guoqing Cao and Dr. Shuyu Li are naturalized U.S. citizens born in China. They were biologists at the Eli Lilly and Company. Cao and Li were indicted on July 16, 2013, and alleged to have stolen $55 million in trade secrets, which was later changed to wire fraud (Case No. 1:13-cr-00150). The charges were dropped more than a year later on December 5, 2014.
Dr. Xiaorong Wang was an award-winning scientist at Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology with a doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering and Material Science. He was indicted on August 14, 2012, and accused of stealing trade secrets from the research center and giving them to a Chinese company (Case No. 5:12-cr-00380). His case was dropped on October 9, 2012.
Dr. Chunzai Wang is a natualized U.S. citizen born in China. Dr. Wang was a research oceanographer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He is one of the foremost experts on ocean-atmosphere interaction, climate change, and hurricanes in the world. He received the NOAA Research Scientist of the Year award in 2012 and 2013. Dr. Wang was indicted on June 29, 2017, and accused of fraudulent claims and illegal supplement of his federal salary (Case No. 1:17-cr-20449). The total amount was about $2,000 over a three-year period to help students there on research involving climate change. Dr. Wang reached agreement with the government on one count and was sentenced to time served, which was one night. According to a hearing transcript, the presiding judge criticized the government for its overreach in prosecuting Dr. Wang. The Committee of 100 also expressed concern about the unfair prosecution of Dr. Wang.
Jing Zeng is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China. He was an employee of Machine Zone, Inc., making an online video game. He has a Bachelor degree in Electronics Engineering and a Master degree in Business Administration. Zeng was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on August 20, 2015, as he prepared to board a flight for China. He was orginally indicted for theft of trade secrets, which was later changed to intentionally causing damage to a protected computer in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Case No. 4:16-cr-00172). Zeng was acquitted on December 6, 2017.
Dr. Haiping Su is a natualized U.S. citizen born in China. He is an Earth Scientist at Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA). According to court documents, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation on Dr. Su in 2003. On June 24, 2008, Dr. Su was denied access as “a security risk” to the facilities by a debarment letter and escorted out of the research center although his work was based only on publicly available data. An attempt to terminate Dr. Su was rescinded after a telecommuting agreement was reached through September 2013. Dr. Su sued NASA under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Privacy Act for deprivation of privacy on April 9, 2010 (Case No. 5:09-cv-02838). The lawsuit was described as an anti-discrimination suit that accused the U.S. government and NASA of racial profiling. The presiding judge ruled in favor of Dr. Su on violation of his privacy rights, but denied the tort claims on April 17, 2013. Dr. Su was reportedly awarded $10,000 in September 2014.