In 1999 and 2000, Committee of 100 led a major initiative and formed a coalition of sixteen organizations to defend and raise national awareness of the denial of due process in the Wen Ho Lee case of alleged espionage. Efforts led to a public apology from the presiding judge and the exoneration of Lee. With increasing concerns of Chinese espionage in the United States, Chinese-Americans are increasingly at risk of being targeted for selective prosecution due to race. In 2012, Committee of 100 members with relevant legal expertise proactively began conducting workshops with Chinese American STEM professionals. These workshops focus on the complex U.S. laws on trade secrets, espionage, and export controls that can particularly affect Chinese Americans, highlighting the requirements of these laws. Presenters examine the challenging geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China, and the consequences that can have on Chinese and Chinese Americans in the workplace. Most recently, our workshops were highlighted on CBS News 60 Minutes as part of their show “Collateral Damage” following the stories of falsely accused scientists Xiaoxing Xi and Sherry Chen.
In 2016, Committee of 100 launched a Legal Defense and Educational Fund to educate and support individuals facing civil rights violations and to promote due process.
Since 2012, Committee of 100 has conducted educational workshops throughout the country to inform Asian Americans in the scientific community on the risks and requirements of U.S. laws on trade secrets, espionage, and export controls. As an organization committed to the full inclusion and equal protection of Chinese Americans in the United States, Committee of 100 members, such as Brian Sun, Nelson Dong, and George Koo have provide this public service on a volunteer basis in order to prevent Asian American scientists and government employees from being accused of wrongdoing due to insufficient knowledge of the risks and sensitivities involved in their fields.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
CHINESE AMERICANS ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF INNOVATION IN AMERICA
- Over one million Chinese Americans work in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM) and contribute significantly to the success and strength of the nation.
- Given the cutting-edge nature of work performed, many Chinese Americans are involved in handling valuable or sensitive technical information, both in industry and in government.
FEAR OF CHINESE THREAT
- The U.S. government has exhibited a heightened focus on the national security and economic challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China; U.S. official reports state that the Chinese government and some Chinese companies employ illicit means to access proprietary information.
- Increasingly, ethnic Chinese (regardless of citizenship) who are scientists, technology professionals, and federal government employees in the United States are being subjected to criminal investigations and prosecutions involving national security, intellectual property theft, and corporate espionage in the United States.
- Government reports show high numbers of successful federal prosecutions of ethnic Chinese working in the U.S., including guilty pleas and convictions after trial.
- In addition, there has also been a recent pattern of a “rush to prosecute”, as a number of Chinese Americans have been arrested and accused of serious crimes of engaging in economic espionage on behalf of China, only to have their cases dismissed after closer examination of the facts.
HAZARD OF RACIAL PROFILING
- Racial profiling is illegal in the United States. However, there is an unfortunate history of racial bias against Chinese in America and a legacy of being perceived as an inferior, perpetually foreign and nefarious group
- These conditions may cause the U.S. government and some U.S. employers to become skeptical or even suspicious of ethnic Chinese, creating undue hazards of racial profiling, bias, and possible misunderstanding of otherwise innocent conduct.
THE NEED FOR SELF-EDUCATION
- The U.S. legal system is complex and extremely costly. In order to to avoid entanglement, it is imperative that Chinese American scientists and engineers with relationships in China are well informed of
- i) the laws that regulate their work
- ii) their unique legal risks within the larger geo-political contexts, and
- iii) the grave consequences of noncompliance.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
UNDERSTAND YOUR EMPLOYER’S TRADE SECRETS
- A trade secret is any valuable commercial information that provides a business with an advantage over competitors who do not have that information. Examples include proprietary drawings, software, blueprints, formulae, specifications, customer or supplier lists, test data, prototypes, etc.
UNDERSTAND ALL APPLICABLE U.S. LAWS & EMPLOYER POLICIES
- Laws & Employer Policies:
- Note that all documentation and electronic communication and hardware are potential forms of “evidence” and likely to be reviewed by prosecutors (i.e. emails, text messages, faxes, phones, tablets, laptops, flash drives, etc.)
- Normal 4th Amendment protection against “unreasonable search & seizure” does not apply to border searches of luggage or carry-on items (covers all in-bound and outbound travelers)
BEWARE FOREIGN SOLICITATION ATTEMPTS & POTENTIAL OF OVER-ZEALOUS INVESTIGATORS
- You may be a target of overseas elicitation efforts (private or official) to obtain U.S. technology illicitly
- You may also be dealing with over-zealous U.S. investigators with heightened fear and preconceived notions about the “Chinese threat”, and thus engage in “racial profiling” against ethnic Chinese
EXTREMELY HIGH STAKES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE
- Fines in millions of dollars; imprisonment (of 15 years and more); loss of reputation and job, including permanent record of previous criminal activity, civil litigation and potential exposure for further damages; jeopardy to U.S. visa status or citizenship process; collateral damages to colleagues, friends and family
- Intentional misconduct will likely be investigated and prosecuted to maximum extent of laws
SEEK PERSONAL LEGAL COUNSEL
- Note that company attorneys protect the business and are not independent or personal counsel.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
- If you are questioned by an FBI or law enforcement agent, you always have the right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney; this does not make you more suspicious.
- Always tell the truth, or remain silent. Providing inaccurate or false details can incriminate you.
- When in doubt, don’t sign anything without consulting an attorney.
BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
EDUCATE OTHERS AND CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
- Share this with your peers, educate them about the risks
- Work within the science and technology communities to strengthen best practices and deepen the conversation on the nuanced pursuit of scientific and academic advancement and exchanges between the U.S. and China; potentially issue new or improve existing guidelines.
CHANGE THE NARRATIVE
- The contributions of millions of law-abiding and loyal Chinese Americans to the U.S. are significant and far-reaching. However, the loyalties of Chinese Americans are being unfairly questioned, and the community is being severely maligned by overreaching prosecutions and rush to judgment.
- Chinese Americans serve as leading scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs across the nation. Because of their contributions and leadership in these fields, America enjoys the paramount position as an innovator for the world.
- Committee of 100 Press Releases and Public Statements:
- Related U.S. Legal Documents and Official Publications:
- Introduction to the Economic Espionage Act – Department of Justice, 2015
- Prosecuting Computer Crimes – Department of Justice, 2015
- Summary of Major U.S. Export Enforcement, Economic Espionage, Trade Secret and Embargo-Related Criminal Cases – Department of Justice, 2015
- Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity – Department of Justice, 2014
- Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes – Department of Justice, 2013
- Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information – Congressional Research Service, 2013
- Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets – White House, 2013
- Pro IP Act Annual Report of the Attorney General FY2010 – Department of Justice, 2010
- Economic Espionage and Trade Secrets – Department of Justice, 2009
- Racial Profiling Fact Sheet – Department of Justice, 2003
- The Insider Threat: An introduction to detecting and deterring an insider spy – Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Economic Espionage: Protecting American’s Trade Secrets – Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Elicitation Techniques – Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Media Reports
- November 7, 2016: Chilling tales of spying accusations recounted | China Daily
- April 18, 2016: Committee of 100 Annual Conference Focuses on Racial Equity: Asian Americans Need to Unite and Strengthen Our Voice (美百人会年会聚焦族裔平等：亚裔应团结自强争取) | China QW (中国侨网)
- Jan 29, 2016: Chinese American Community Raises Funds for a Chinese American Scientist falsely accused of Espionage (美华裔科学家被诬“间谍”生活受损 华社拟募款) | Xinhua (新华网)
- November 12, 2015: Chinese-American Scientists in the Crosshairs | American Association for the Advancement of Science
- September 22, 2015: Chinese American Scientists: Be Careful Not to Touch the Intelligence-Gathering Land Mines (华裔科学家 小心触情搜地雷惹祸) | World Journal (世界日报)
- September 23, 2015: Chinese American Scientists: Be Careful Not to Touch the Intelligence-Gathering Land Mines (在美華裔科學家 小心觸情蒐地雷惹禍) | UDN (联合新闻网)
- September 22, 2015: Wen Ho Lee’s Defense Attorney Brian Sun: Chinese American Scientists Need to Be Careful Not to Touch the Intelligence-Gathering Land Mines (李文和辯護律師孫自華：華裔科學家 小心觸情蒐地雷惹禍) | Scholars Update (美国华裔教授专家网)
- September 16, 2015: Innocent Chinese American Scholars Denounce U.S. for Immensely Harmful Allegations (兩無辜華裔學者斥美指控傷害巨大) | Singpao (成报网)
- September 16, 2015: U.S. Allegations Against Two Chinese American Scientists Withdrawn, They Hope Similar Incidents Do Not Occur (美撤销对两华裔科学家指控 二人望类似事件别再发生) | China.com (中国新闻网)
- September 16, 2015: U.S. Department of Justice: Please Stop Racial Discrimination (美国司法部，请停止你的种族歧视!) | Kankan News (看看新闻)
- September 16, 2015: Committee of 100 Seeks Justice for Xi Xiaoxing and Sherry Chen (百人會等為郗小星、陳霞芬討公道) | Word Journal (世界新闻网)
- September 16, 2015: Committee of 100 Calls on the U.S. Attorney General to Address Racial Discrimination (百人会要求美司法部长关注种族歧视) | Voice of America (美国之音)
- September 16, 2015: Chinese American Experts, in First Public Appearance after Falling into the “Espionage Gate,”Shed Tears Talking about Their Experiences (在美华裔专家陷“间谍门”后首度公开露面 落泪讲述心酸经历) | Sinovision (美国中文网)
- September 16, 2015: Chinese American Experts, in First Public Appearance after Falling into the “Espionage Gate,” Shed Tears Talking about Their Experiences (美華裔專家陷間諜門後首度落淚講述心酸經歷) | Mingjing News (明镜新闻)
- September 16, 2015: Xi Xiaoxing and Other Chinese American Scientists Ask U.S. Department of Justice to Stop Racial Discrimination (郗小星等华裔科学家呼吁美司法部停止“种族歧视”) | Kankan News (看看新闻)
- September 16, 2015: Chinese American Scientists Appeal Unjust Espionage Allegations (在美华裔科学家申诉“间谍”冤案) | People’s Daily (人民网)
- September 13, 2015: Unjust Allegations against Chinese American Scientists are Withdrawn by U.S. Department of Justice (华裔科学家被冤 美国司法部撤诉) | Xinhua News (新华网)
- September 13, 2015: Xi Xiaoxing: Gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice for Withdrawing Allegations (郗小星：感谢美国司法部撤销指控) | Voice of America (美国之音)
- September 13, 2015: U.S. Department of Justice Withdrew Allegations, Announcing Mistakenly Accused Chinese American Professor of Spying for China (华裔教授被冤为中国间谍 美司法部撤诉称弄错) | Xinhua News (新华网)
- September 11, 2015: A Farce: U.S. Department of Justice Withdrew Allegations against Chinese American Superconductor Expert (一场闹剧 美国司法部撤销华裔超导专家指控) | Wenxue City (文学城新闻网)
- September 10, 2015: Female Chinese American Scientist Loses Job after Being Accused of Leaking Secrets; Committee of 100 Urges the Department of Justice to Address Racial Discrimination (美華裔女科學家被指泄密後遭解雇 “百人會”促司法部關注種族歧視) | Sinovision (美国中文网)
- September 10, 2015: Female Chinese American Scientist Loses Job after Being Accused of Leaking Secrets; Committee of 100 Urges the Department of Justice to Address Racial Discrimination (美国华裔女科学家被指泄密后遭解雇 “百人会”促司法部关注种族歧视) | Chicago Wind (芝加哥中文网)
- September 4, 2015: Committee of 100: The High Tech Field is Increasingly Risky, Chinese Americans Should Actively Speak Out (百人会：高科技領域多風險+华人應踴躍發聲) | ScienceNets (华人科学网)
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