An engineering professor fired from his job amid charges he hid his ties to China is back at work at the University of Tennessee, five months after he was acquitted in a much-watched China Initiative case.
Anming Hu, a nanotechnology expert, returned to the Knoxville campus last week in a tenured position. The university also gave him $300,000 to restart his research lab.
Hu told the Knox News
that his reinstatement was a “new beginning”:
Even though I suffered a lot — it’s still painful in my heart — and the damage with my reputation, to my family, I think we have to move on…. I don’t want to waste the time.
Hu’s case was the first of an academic researcher to go to trial as part of the federal probe of academic and espionage with China. After his initial trial ended in a mistrial, a judge threw out
the government’s attempt to retry him, saying that “no rational jury” could conclude that Hu was trying to defraud the federal agencies that funded his research.
Hu’s case raised important questions about the role for American universities as the U.S. government continues to scrutinize academic ties with China. Read more.
And yes, I said continued scrutiny. Although I reported last week
that an FBI official had announced that the agency was shifting to a less adversarial approach to China Initiative cases, remarks by the FBI director did not indicate any softening in its approach.
In a speech
, Christopher Wray seemed to defend the embattled China Initiative, although he did not mention it by name. Instead, he argued that China’s efforts to poach American innovation were “more brazen, more damaging than ever before.” And the FBI director specifically named higher education as a “battleground we’re contesting,” referring to “universities whose students and research we’re trying to protect.”
Wray’s statements seem to run counter to speculation that the Biden administration would seek to wind down the investigation following Hu’s acquittal and the dismissal of charges
against a MIT professor and other researchers.
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