The Lawfare Podcast


Dr. Charles Lieber and the China Initiative

On December 21, Harvard University chemist Dr. Charles Lieber was convicted of making false statements and other tax offenses in connection with his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents program. Lieber’s case got a lot of attention, both because of his profile as a well known researcher at Harvard University, and because of the case’s connection with the U.S. government's occasionally controversial three-year-old program called the China Initiative. The program was unveiled in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and has been used by the Justice Department to investigate and charge a variety of wrongdoings connected with the Chinese government, economic espionage, research security, and other issues.

To talk through the Lieber case and the China Initiative generally, Jacob Schulz sat down with Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall Law School. Emily and Margaret have written extensively about the China Initiative and provide thoughts on the Lieber case, as well as what to make of the initiative as a whole.

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