DOJ’s Now-Shuttered ‘China Initiative’ Targeted CCP: Former Acting Attorney General

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Matthew Whitaker, who served as acting attorney general under the Trump administration, said the recently terminated China Initiative program wasn’t targeting Chinese Americans, but rather the Chinese regime.

“It is targeted specifically at the Chinese Communist Party [CCP], that has been destabilizing our country,” Whitaker said in an interview with EpochTV’s “China Insider” program at the Conservative Political Action Conference (Matthew Whitaker,) in Orlando on Feb. 25. “Intellectual property theft is costing us hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.

“China is not an honest partner on the world stage. They’re just not, and they shouldn’t be trusted.”

The Department of Justice, which announced the China Initiative program in November 2018, wrote on its website (pdf) that the initiative was aimed at disrupting the Chinese regime’s “rob, replicate, and replace” strategy through “blatant and systematic theft” of American intellectual property. The agency said the initiative “reinforces President Trump’s overall national security strategy.”

Under the initiative, the main goals for the DOJ were to step up its effort to investigate and prosecute trade secret theft, hacking, and economic espionage, as well as educate U.S. colleges and universities about Chinese influence on their campuses.

On the two-year anniversary of the program’s launch, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his bureau was opening a new China-related counterintelligence case “nearly every 10 hours.” Since the program’s inception, there have been dozens of prosecutions, including a recent case involving a math professor at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale.

The DOJ terminated the program on Feb. 23 after a departmental review, saying the initiative was “not the right approach.” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the program “fueled a narrative of intolerance and bias.”

Olsen said the initiative would be replaced by a broader approach to tackle threats “from a range of hostile nation-states,” and the DOJ “will continue to prioritize” threats from the Chinese regime.

China welcomed the DOJ’s decision to terminate the initiative. Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said during a briefing on Feb. 24 that the initiative was the “poisonous legacy of the previous administration.”

Before Hua’s latest comments, China’s state-run media promoted propaganda saying the initiative was “anti-Asian,” a “political manipulation,” a “witch hunt,” or a “political persecution.”

By Frank Fang and David Zhang

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