Chinese researchers targeted US lab employees to promote military technology, according to a report

Over 160 scientists who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico returned to China between 1987 and 2021 to support domestic research and development initiatives . China is employing a Talent Superpower Strategy to encourage academics, engineers, and scientists to study abroad, deepen their knowledge, and return to China to advance its strategic interests .

Utah (US), September 23: According to a study published by Strider Technologies, the Chinese government recruited scientists who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico for supporting China in the development of key military and dual-use technologies such as hypersonics, deep-earth penetrating warheads, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and jet engines.The research revealed that over 160 scientists who had worked at Los Alamos returned to China between 1987 and 2021 to support various domestic research and development (R&D) initiatives.According to the think tank survey, fifteen of these scientists worked as permanent staff members at Los Alamos.Thirteen of those fifteen were recruited into Chinese government employment programs; some were responsible for sponsoring visiting scholars and postdoctoral researchers from the PRC; and some received US government funding for critical research.

The initiative, which began in the 1980s, has since evolved to include programs that encourage them to return to the country's main technology sectors.According to a 32-page report, the PRC's success among former Los Alamos affiliates, as well as support for China's talent programs from Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and other top CCP executives, indicates that similar recruitment efforts could be carried out across US government-funded laboratories, academic research institutes, and major centers of innovation.The Los Alamos example illustrates how Chinas rapid development in certain key military technologies is being aided by individuals who participated in high-risk US government funded projects, according to the study.Since returning to China, Los Alamos alumni have helped China to develop the key military and dual-use technologies such as hypersonics, deep-earth penetrating warheads, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), jet engines, and submarine noise reduction.

Nevertheless, more can be done by government-funded laboratories, research institutes, and private industries to assess and mitigate potential counterintelligence and IP theft risks associated with individuals whose talents the PRC is exploiting in its quest for scientific and technological dominance, according to the report.The study also stated that it is an urgent national security concern for like-minded countries to work together to protect their innovation centers and compete with China in order to attract, maintain, and protect leading talent.