14 Alleged Chinese Secret Agents Were Apprehended in 2020, Working for US Colleges and Universities

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More than a dozen college professors and researchers working for America’s higher education institutes were arrested last year for their affiliation with China.

This has prompted questions into how much of an influence the Chinese Communist Party has over America’s colleges and why they are so dependent on foreign nations, according to Campus Reform.

Some of the alleged Chinese secret agents include:

Harvard University medical student Zhaosong Zheng was accused of attempting to smuggle cancer research. He allegedly received multiple payments from the Chinese Scholarship Council.

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University of Virginia researcher, Haizhou Hu was apprehended last September at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport while en route to China. Hu was caught with “bio-inspired research simulation software code that he was not authorized to possess,” according to the US Department of Justice.

UCLA researcher, Guan Lei was arrested last August for transferring sensitive data to China, destroying information during the investigation, and denying his association with the Chinese military.


University of Kansas associate professor Feng Tao was charged with wire fraud and program fraud.

University of Tennessee-Knoxville associate professor and researcher Amning Hu was arrested last March for his alleged connections to China. He was charged with wire fraud and making false statements. According to Campus Reform, Hu reportedly made false statements to obtain additional federal funding from NASA, while “concealing his affiliation with Beijing University of Technology in China.”

Texas A&M professor and NASA researcher Zhengdong Cheng was detained for alleged conspiracy, false statements, and wire fraud. The Justice Department reported that Cheng “willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company.” 

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To see the full list of the academics who were arrested, indicted, or sentenced, click here.

Chance Layton, communications coordinator for the National Association of Scholars said, “America’s colleges and universities are far too dependent on foreign nations.” 

He noted that numerous university administrators depend on sponsorship of programs from “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, China, and others.” 

Layton said the international sponsors tend to “establish satellite campuses in these nations where students and professors are expected to abide by the host country’s limitations on free speech, academic freedom, and even human rights.” 

Additionally, he believes that American universities “fear the public knowing how much influence our foreign adversaries have bought at their institutions” and that rivals like China, “have found a soft target in America’s colleges.”

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