Justice Department to modify Trump-era program aimed at fighting Chinese threats

The Justice Department is looking to announce changes to a Trump-tenure effort to combat Chinese national security threats called the China Initiative.

Civil rights proponents, business groups, and universities told the Biden administration that the initiative fostered suspicion of Asian professors employed in the United States and contributed to increasing anti-Asian sentiment.

The changes will likely include retiring the name “China Initiative,” and come as a result of a three-month evaluation conducted by Matthew G. Olsen, who currently serves as the head of the Justice Department’s national security division.

Modifications to the program, which brought espionage, trade-secrets theft, and cybercrime cases under the same umbrella, come as Beijing still employs spies, cyberhacking, and theft as well as propaganda to challenge America’s current standing as the world’s dominant economic and military power.

The FBI has over 2,000 ongoing investigations open into Chinese efforts to harbor American information and technology, and it is also opening new cases in relation to Chinese intelligence operations about ever 12 hours, according to Christopher Wray, the director of the bureau.

“There is just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, our innovation and our economic security than China,” Wray said last month.

Republicans have consistently argued that alterations to the program would signal that the Biden administration was taking a softer approach to Beijing.

But Olsen has said to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as White House officials that the work of the department will not be hindered by any changes. Modifications will most likely focus on the department’s general efforts to identify academics and researchers who lied to the government regarding their Chinese affiliations.  




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