For years, civil rights groups have accused the U.S. judiciary of racial profiling against scientists of Chinese descent. Today, a new report provides information that can measure some of their claims.
A study published by the Committee of 100, an association of prominent Sino-American civic leaders, found that people of Chinese heritage were more likely than others to be prosecuted under the Economic Intelligence Act. Less Likely to be convicted.
“The key question this study seeks to answer is whether Asian-Americans behave differently on suspicion of espionage,” said a lawyer and visiting scholar at South Texas College of Law Houston. “The answer to this question is yes.”
The study, which looked at US economic intelligence data from 1996 to 2020, found that less than half of all defendants were accused of stealing privacy that would benefit China. This is far less than the figures given by U.S. officials to justify the Department of Justice’s flagship China Initiative.
According to the report, 46% of defendants under the Economic Intelligence Act have been charged with activities that would benefit the Chinese people or entities, and 2% have been charged with stealing privacy that would benefit American businesses.
These numbers directly contradict the Department of Justice’s messages around the China Initiative, which was launched in 2018 to combat economic espionage. The department has publicly stated – for example, on the front page of its home page for the China Initiative – that 80% of its cases will benefit the Chinese state, “the theft will be reflected on such a large scale that it represents one of the largest transfers.” War described in 2020.
Since 2019, the program has primarily targeted academic researchers.
“Strong evidence of allegations with little evidence”
The report is based on an analysis of public court filings and press releases of the Department of Justice for the trial of all economic espionage laws between 1 and 2020. Period up to 2016.
Both “theft of commercial privacy” and “economic espionage” charges were included, with the charge of “economic espionage” being charged with proof of “relationship with a foreign entity” and higher fines. (These two sections are only part of the allegations under the China Initiative; Kim briefly mentioned “false statements and procedural offenses” and, among other offenses, has been accused of cheating people on grant fraud and visa applications.)
Since demographic data and citizenship data are not filed in court, Kim used the name as a proxy for the race, and he used Google search when names like Lee and Park were racially obscure. As for citizenship, Kim noted that press releases are often significant if the defendant is a “foreign national,” so he assumed that the defendants were all citizens unless otherwise indicated.