After Sentencing of Chinese Thousand Talents Plan Award Recipient, Portman Calls for USICA Conference Report to Safeguard American Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC– Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement calling for the Conference Committee tasked with reconciling differences between the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House’s America COMPETES Act, to include his bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, in the wake of yet another Thousand Talent Plan award recipient being sentenced for stealing trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud. The Department of Justice announced that Xiaorong You, a chemist, was sentenced by a federal judge in Tennessee after being convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud. You received millions of dollars in Chinese government grants including a Thousand Talents Plan award to steal American innovation to fund the rise of China’s economy.

Portman’s bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, passed the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis as a part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Portman and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led a year-long investigation that revealed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and innovation for China’s military and economic gain. This legislation will ensure the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation.

“I commend the Department of Justice for its work to help protect American innovation and research from theft by foreign governments like China. This case highlights how U.S. innovation continues to be a high-value target for China’s talent recruitment efforts and reinforces the need to ensure my Senate-passed, bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act is included in the USICA conference report. I’m pleased that our bipartisan investigation in 2019 spurred action by federal law enforcement to hold China and its Thousand Talents Program members accountable and ensure that justice is served. However, any conference report with significant increased levels of federal funding for research without the protections included in the Safeguarding American Innovation Act would be a huge giveaway to Beijing. We must do everything possible to stop foreign governments from stealing our research and innovation.”

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