Yanqing Ye, a researcher from a Chinese military academy, applied to study at Boston University with celebrated Boston University physicist Eugene Stanley. At the time, her affiliation did not raise any red flags.
Stanley said that he receives multiple research requests and that he vets candidates’ scientific credentials.
It was later found she had failed to declare on her J-1 visa application that she was a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army, and carried out military assignments while studying at Boston University.
Ye is accused by federal prosecutors of acting as an agent of a foreign government.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this has exposed vulnerabilities in American universities that collaborate internationally on scientific research.
The Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health are concerned that the Chinese government are attempting to tap US universities expertise to gain a competitive edge.
“Beijing has denied any systematic effort to steal U.S. scientific research, and Chinese state media have called U.S. allegations of intellectual property theft a political tool,” notes theWall Street Journal.