A new study has found that people of Asian descent are twice as likely to be severely punished under the Economic Espionage Act.

The analysis examined 190 cases between 1996 and 2020, involving 276 individual defendants, and categorized cases according to the origin of the names on file. The results revealed that people with Asian names were arrested at higher rates than defendants with Western names, but less likely to be convicted than those with Western names.

The study was released Tuesday by the Committee of 100, a New York-based nonprofit made up of prominent Chinese-Americans in fields such as business, law and academia.

The court records were analyzed by Houston attorney and South Texas College of Law attorney Andrew Chongseh Kim, who said in a statement that the study suggests Asian Americans are becoming “collateral damage” in the goal of protecting the US economy.

“People of Asian descent are more likely to be accused of espionage, although they are less likely to be actually convicted of such charges,” Kim said.

To prevent entities from stealing trade secrets from US companies, Congress passed the Economic Espionage Act in 1996. According to the study, the number of people charged under the EEA continues to increase each year. In cases between 2009 and 2020, the majority of defendants accused of espionage were Asian, and an overwhelming number of those defendants were of Chinese descent.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

In a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the same day the study was published, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the FBI was opening a counterintelligence case in China as often as any. every 12 hours. In a speech last year, Wray stressed that the agency’s efforts are “not for the Chinese people, and certainly not for Chinese Americans.”

“When I talk about the threat from China, I mean the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party,” Wray said.

Still, the study’s results showed that Asians of diverse backgrounds may be subject to the consequences of the agency’s investigations. Among the cases examined in the white paper, Asian defendants who were convicted were more likely to serve a prison sentence, while about half of defendants with Western names did not receive a prison term.

Meanwhile, the Asian defendants went to jail 75 percent of the time, and the Chinese defendants went to jail 80 percent of the time. Asian defendants were also likely to receive sentences twice as long as defendants with Western names, according to the study. Yet the results revealed that one in three Asian American defendants may have been falsely accused of espionage.

Asian Americans also received more press from the Justice Department. For example, the department issued press releases in 80 percent of cases with Asian defendants, and only 51 percent of Western defendants’ cases had press releases, according to the analysis.

Another key finding was that Asian defendants were more likely to be arrested and handcuffed. Sixty-two percent of defendants with Western names have been subpoenaed to appear in court, compared to 31% of Asian defendants. Only 22% of Chinese defendants received a summons.

Democratic lawmakers like Representatives Judy Chu, of California, and Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, have linked the increase in racial profiling to the Department of Justice’s national security division. China Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2018 under the Trump administration with the aim of countering threats to national security originating specifically from China.

Chu and Raskin launched an investigation in 2020 into the FBI’s Chinese espionage investigations and asked the agency to turn over documents related to its investigations.

“The China Initiative is unique among Justice Department investigations. While most investigations start with a crime and then find a suspect, this initiative starts with a suspect and then searches for a crime, ”Chu said at a“ Researching While Chinese American ”roundtable in June. The panel discussion included hydrologist Sherry Chen and physics professor Xiaoxing Xi, both of whom were falsely accused of espionage in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Even though the Biden administration claims to fight hate crimes against Asian Americans, its own Justice Department is suing the Trump administration’s discredited and discriminatory ‘China Initiative’ – a racial profiling initiative and prosecution that wrongly assumes that Sino-American researchers are willing to be accomplices in [People’s Republic of China] espionage efforts, ”Cato Institute senior researcher Patrick Eddington said of the initiative in an email.

Committee of 100 Chairman Zheng Yu Huang said the FBI should consider involving more Chinese Americans throughout its operations, in order to better understand the inner workings of Chinese special agents and other cultural nuances.

“Imagine trying to pursue a business involving China when you don’t have any experts on China. How scary is that? Huang said.

To tackle the problem, the 100-member Committee has organized trainings across the country to help Asian professionals better understand their rights. Huang said the group is also working on developing guidelines on combating anti-Chinese tropes and distinguishing between state actors and ordinary people of Asian descent.

“We believe that protecting national security is very important,” Huang said. “But we must never sacrifice some of our basic rights as American citizens in the pursuit of this because national security is there to protect those rights, not to diminish them.”


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