A former CIA station chief said the Chinese government is systematically trying to steal biomedical research from U.S. universities, including information on a vaccine for COVID-19.
"They for sure want to steal our secrets when it comes to the COVID vaccine,” Daniel Hoffman told Fox News on Tuesday. “They might even want to try to interfere with what we’re doing to impede our progress for finding a vaccine in our own country."
Hoffman said China is systematically targeting scientists – particularly of Asian descent – at American schools for trade secrets.
“They’re also sending their own to our country because they’re trying to take advantage of our very open democratic system to steal our intellectual property," Hoffman said. "And, it is of great concern and I’m sure of heightened interest in the Congress as well as our executive branch for how to come up with better solutions to counter this."
Hoffman described the actions as a “siege” by China. His comments come following the firings or resignations of 54 scientists, a result of a National Institutes of Health probe into grantees’ failures to disclose foreign ties.
The Epoch Times reported that the NIH investigated 189 scientists for undisclosed foreign ties, with 93 percent of the hidden funding coming from China.
Seventy-seven grantees have been removed from the NIH system as a result of the probe, it said.
"And, NIH for example has got to have a better foreign contact program where they don't just report all of their interactions with foreigners. In particular, with [the] Chinese," Hoffman said to Fox News.
With regard to COVID-19, Hoffman said he "wouldn't put it past" China to "want the rest of the world to suffer the same economic consequences that it is suffering.
"And so, when the virus gets out we know what [it] has done to our economy and I think we do need to hold them accountable for that among other things," he said.
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