Liberal Professor Says Government Shouldn’t Look for Spies in Academia

Liberal Professor Says Government Shouldn't Look for Spies in Academia

( – In 2018, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) launched the “China Initiative” to stop China from engaging in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage and to protect US infrastructure from external threats. The DOJ set 10 goals for the China Initiative, one of which was to educate colleges and universities about dangers to academic freedom and open discourse.

Despite numerous arrests since 2018 on campuses across the country, 177 Stanford faculty members alleged the DOJ harms research and technology competitiveness. They said the government should stop looking for spies on campuses.

According to the DOJ, the China Initiative has resulted in nearly 90 arrests overall. Professors at Stanford, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ohio State, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Southern Illinois University, University of California, University of Florida, Carbondale and five other prominent state and private universities faced the DOJ over potential federal crimes.

The Stanford group of professors say the China Initiative does nothing but scare people and harm academic research. The DOJ countered that it works diligently to prevent unlawful Chinese efforts to undermine US national security and harm the economy. At the same time, federal prosecutors say they take discrimination seriously.

One big question remains: Is the request by the professors valid, or is there a middle ground?

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