Four U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday urged the country’s Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether race, ethnicity or national origin played a part in the recent cases against Chinese-American scientists who were wrongfully suspected of economic espionage.
The move came one day before members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), including Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Grace Meng and Michael Honda, are to meet Attorney General Loretta Lynch, over the cases of National Weather Service hydrologist Sherry Chen, Temple University professor Xiaoxing Xi and other similar cases.
Chen and Xi were suspected of economic espionage only to have those charges later dropped. The prestigious Science magazine reported last Friday that in just the past year, charges have been dropped against five Chinese-born scientists accused of crimes related to trade secrets theft or economic spying.
SOUNDBTIE: JUDY CHU, U.S. Congresswoman
“Standing with me Xi and Chen who are prominent scientists recently filed victim appears to be a practice and a pattern of federal government profiling Chinese-American scientists as spies for China even when there’s no credible evidence to support it. I want to stress that Congress will not tolerate Chinese-Americans are being treated as second class citizens.Our message to the DOJ is clear. Chinese Americans and Asian-Americans are just that Americans. As such, this is not just an Asian issue, but an American issue.”
Congressman Lieu noted that the United States has its own “blind spots,” one of which is “a history of discrimination against Asian-Americans.” He said it has become clear innocent Chinese-American scientists are targeted because of their ethnicity.
SOUNDBTIE: TED LIEU, U.S. Congresswoman
“If it was just one case, that might be a mistake. But when it is multiple cases, you now have a pattern.”
Their concerns were echoed by Congresswoman Meng, who stressed that a practice of targeting of Chinese-Americans based on their background is “unacceptable.”
Meng said these investigations turned the world of the accused upside-down and caused a huge financial and economic cost for them.
Honda also called for an independent investigation into possible profiling of Chinese-American scientists.
Xi and Chen were present at the news conference in Washington, D.C. and shared their stories respectively.