US seeks extradition of Chinese researcher from Switzerland for IP theft

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The US is pursuing the extradition of Chinese researcher Gongda Xue from Switzerland on the charge of helping his sister, Yu “Joyce” Xue, steal secret information worth $550 million from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Reuters reported.

Why it matters: Prosecutors in the Xue case have labeled the siblings’ actions “economic warfare,” underscoring the harshness with which the US government is targeting researchers and scientists for their foreign ties.

  • With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) pressuring institutions across the country to investigate suspicious activity, many have raised concerns about racial bias against employees of Chinese origin.

Details: Ms. Xue pleaded guilty in the US last August to stealing GSK’s intellectual property, and is one of six co-defendants in the case.

  • According to prosecutors, the scheme included creating a Chinese state-backed company named Renopharma that could utilize the stolen information and subsequently be sold for up to $2.2 billion.
  • The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has labeled Mr. Xue a potential flight risk and has yet to agree on extradition terms.  

Context: Just last week, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists spoke of the increasingly toxic environment on US college campuses and institutions in the wake of the NIH’s campaign, describing unfair treatment by government officials and surprise visits from law enforcement.