DailySA: Harvard nanoscientist convicted of Chinese espionage – Forward Observer

DailySA: Harvard nanoscientist convicted of Chinese espionage

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness for Thursday, 23 December 2021. You can receive this daily briefing by signing up at https://forwardobserver.com/daily-sa

You can also watch each DailySA show here: https://youtube.com/forwardobserver

ADMIN NOTE: There will be no DailySA or Early Warning Show today. We’ll be back on Monday. We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  – M.S. 


  • Harvard nanoscientist convicted of Chinese espionage
  • DoD’s Silicon Valley efforts hit roadbump
  • CRS details findings on autonomous drones


  • Economic Warning INTSUM
  • Major banks downgrade US 2022 GDP after BBB dies
  • Larry Summers issues recession warning
  • El-Erian on wage inflation
  • OECD warns of continued inflation
  • RAND: US must step up and compete with China
  • Qatar plans US port investments


HARVARD PROFESSOR CONVICTED OF LYING ABOUT CHINA CONNECTIONS: A Harvard University professor was convicted on Tuesday of U.S. charges that he lied about his ties to a China-run recruitment program. The case stemmed from a crackdown on Chinese influence within the U.S. academia and research community. A federal jury in Boston found Charles Lieber, a renowned nanoscientist and the former chairman of Harvard’s chemistry department, guilty of making false statements to authorities, filing false tax returns and failing to report a Chinese bank account. Prosecutors alleged that Lieber, in his quest for a Nobel Prize, in 2011 agreed to become a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology in China and through it participated in a Chinese recruitment drive called the Thousand Talents Program. Prosecutors say China uses that program to recruit foreign researchers to share their knowledge with the country. Participation is not a crime, but prosecutors contend Lieber, 62, lied to authorities inquiring about his involvement. (Analyst Comment: Through his alleged position as a “strategic scientist” Lieber was likely working as an access agent for the Chinese military or Ministry of State Security. Theoretically, Lieber could have been an unwitting agent, although his Chinese bank account, false tax returns and false statements indicate he was probably witting of his role. Lieber’s access to advanced technology and academia allowed him to spot and assess U.S. researchers for recruitment by China’s intelligence services and potentially transfer restricted technology to the Chinese entities. – M.M.)

SILICON VALLEY VENTURE CAPITAL UPSET WITH DOD: At the latest Reagan Defense Forum, a Davos-style meeting between Silicon Valley venture capital executives and senior defense officials, Silicon Valley executives complained that working with DOD was too difficult. They warned Pentagon officials that “time is running out” for their high-tech startups who have developed their products for DOD yet have not made it through the Defense Department’s byzantine acquisitions process. Frustrated that DOD has not awarded as many production contracts as expected, venture capital executives stated that startups and their VC money would move on to other venues if the situation was not quickly rectified. Several senior officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, acknowledged the difficulty of working with DOD and promised to address the problem.

LETHAL AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS: The Congressional Research Service outlined their findings on the international stance on lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS). LAWS are tied directly with artificial intelligence (AI) advancements due the potential impacts it can make on the battlefield, and AI-enabled LAWS could enable military operations in communications-degraded or denied environments where traditional systems would not be effective. There is no consensus definition of LAWS among the international community which leads to debates on what current military systems should be labeled as LAWS. The United States and Russia have opposed any preemptive bans on LAWs, and China supports the ban on use but not the development of LAWS.


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