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DeSantis v China: A David and Goliath Story

Florida’s governor and Republican leadership thwart tide of China’s influence.

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Articles, Good Reads, Trade

China has invaded nearly every aspect of American life, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will have none of it. Governor DeSantis and Florida’s Republican leaders are pushing legislation that targets efforts by China and other foreign agents to influence state policy, economics, and the lives of Florida citizens.

Most troubling is theft of intellectual property from “education and research institutions.” As DeSantis put it in a speech in the Florida capital, “The long-term goals and interests of the Chinese Communist Party are antithetical to the basic tenets of the American republic.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appears to be on board with Governor DeSantis’ initiative. Lynn DeJarnette of Florida National News explains:

“Senator Rubio said that Chinese interference is ‘unlike any counter-intelligence threat we have ever faced.’ He went on to say that China feels they have the right to be the predominant power and that they see the United States as a declining power, especially after recent events such as the attack on the Capitol.”

Rubio continued his description of how “China also wants to lead the world in technology, and they try to do that in three ways: steal Research for U.S. companies, embed students in University research programs, and pay researchers to give them the research data.” The legislation introduced in the Florida lawmakers’ bills includes proposals to:

 “… force disclosure of donations and grants for higher education institutions, state agencies, and local governments. Anyone seeking grants or contracts from Florida for more than $50,000 would be required to disclose contracts with and donations and grants received from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria or Venezuela.”

In a larger sense, the Chinese “one belt, one road” campaign can be read as a threat to every state in the Union – Chinese intrusion into the “American Way” is indeed a national security threat. The Chinese invasion of U.S. higher learning institutions is a concern for all the states, and some have suggested that state legislatures should take steps to address the Chinese threat in a fashion similar to the Florida initiatives. U.S. intellectual property, the precious product of American scientists’ inventions, designs, and engineering prowess, is being stolen, principally by the Chinese.

An article titled “The Department of Justice’s National Security Division Chief Addresses China’s Campaign to Steal U.S. Intellectual Property” in the National Law Review makes the case:

“Over 80% of all cases charged as economic espionage (i.e., cases involving the theft of trade secrets by or on behalf of the Chinese government or its instrumentalities or agents) involve China, and 60% of all trade secret cases involve China.”

To further emphasize the danger China poses to U.S. technology, The Guardian reported that the “FBI on Thursday identified China as the biggest law enforcement threat to the United States, and its director said Beijing was seeking to steal American technology by ‘any means necessary.'” And where do you think the Chinese focus much of their espionage activities? If you said, “U.S. colleges and universities,” you’d be right on the button.

In February of last year, the Department of Justice issued a press release titled “Researcher at University Arrested for Wire Fraud and Making False Statements About Affiliation with Chinese University.” Right in America’s heartland at the University of Tennessee (UT), the Chinese were up to their mischief. The press release explains that Anming Hu, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering at UT, Knoxville, was arrested and charged with wire fraud and making false statements.

If you believe this invasion of the “technology snatchers” is something new, you would be wrong. Taking effective action at the federal level, however, may not be likely as Liberty Nation’s Jose Backer explains. “Over the last decade, Confucius Institutes have been notorious for their role as an extension of Chinese soft power worldwide,” he wrote. “These ‘educational’ institutions have been involved in espionage, surveillance, student-pushed censorship, and propaganda movements directly instructed by the CCP.”

America cannot wait for the federal government to take action. Perhaps it is time for other states to take Governor DeSantis’ lead and pass legislation that makes it difficult or extremely costly to steal U.S. technology, company proprietary data, or intellectual property of any kind. China’s exploitation of the research and engineering degree programs in American universities is a matter of national security.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.


Read more from Dave Patterson.

Read More From Dave Patterson

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