China’s Foreign Ministry demanded the United States end “systemic racial discrimination” and “do some soul-searching” on Thursday in response to news that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is reviewing a program to combat Chinese Communist Party espionage.
The DOJ’s China Initiative, launched under former President Donald Trump, is an attempt to focus law enforcement efforts on identifying Chinese government infiltration of academia and the technology and economic sectors meant to undermine the United States and enrich China’s intellectual property base. The DOJ under President Joe Biden is reportedly nearing the end of a review of the program. According to a report from Reuters this week, the Biden administration is expected to end a program focused on professors working illicitly with the Communist Party and remove “China” from the name of the “China Initiative” “amid concerns that label could fuel anti-Asian rhetoric.”
The program was launched in response to a growing number of incidents in which professors were caught illicitly working with Chinese government agents, or agents themselves were found inappropriately sharing technology and other intelligence with Beijing. Among the most prominent incidents were the arrest and conviction of Harvard University professor Charles Lieber in 2021 for lying about ties to the Wuhan University of Technology and the conviction of engineering professor Yi-Chi Shih in the same year for “a scheme to illegally export integrated circuits with military applications to China.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the program, and all national security protocol meant to protect the U.S. from Chinese government theft and espionage, as evidence of “systemic racial discrimination” in America.
“Both the so-called China Initiative and the rampant anti-Asian acts and words in the US boil down to its systemic racial discrimination and reflect the entrenched social problem in the US,” Wang claimed. “Statistics show that anti-Asian hate crimes rose 76 percent in 2020. A quarter of young Americans of Asian descent were targeted by racial discrimination and bullying over the last year.”
“These numbers are shocking and present a cause for widespread concern in many Asian countries and the wider international community,” Wang said, without explaining what “anti-Asian hate crime” statistics have to do with investigations into the illicit activities of the Chinese government, which do not include other Asian governments who do not behave like rogue states.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly used alleged “systemic racism” – a common complaint from the American left – as a cudgel to condemn the American government while dismissing concerns about the ongoing genocide against Muslim ethnic groups it is currently perpetrating. Among the highest-profile examples of this was an exchange at a summit between American and Chinese officials in March in which senior Politburo member Yang Jiechi ranted for 16 minutes about “Black Lives Matter” and alleged racism in America, receiving no significant rebuttal about China’s genocide of the Uyghur people from Secretary of State Antony Blinken or National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
“Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the Government of the United States,” Yang claimed. “[T]he challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently.”
The summit – in Anchorage, Alaska – was such a public relations victory for the Communist Party that Chinese companies sold commemorative swag including phone covers and tote bags featuring Yang quotes on them.
The same month as the summit, the Chinese government published a “human rights” report on the United States which largely reproduced talking points from American leftists calling for defunding the police. The report prominently featured the case of George Floyd, a Minnesota man whose death in police custody prompted nationwide riots.
“In the United States, racism exists in a comprehensive, systematic, and continuous manner,” the report claimed. It also described “unchecked public opinion manipulation and rampant lies” – meaning unregulated free speech – as a human rights violation.
China’s government propaganda outlet Global Times compared George Floyd to Rosa Parks in May.
“[O]ne year after Floyd’s death, U.S. society has not seen a turning point toward a better situation. Many U.S. ethnic minorities are still living in discrimination and inequality,” the Global Times claimed. “Ethnic minorities, especially African Americans, still ‘can’t breathe.’”