US’ University under FBI probe over China’s attempt to steal Covid-19 research

America’s University of Texas whose work has contributed to some promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates has been contacted by FBI over allegations that Chinese consulate in Houston had sought to obtain such research.
As per reports, the University told faculty and research staff in an email on July 27 that it was notified of the investigation by the FBI. FBI agents would contact university researchers about the alleged role of the consulate and “efforts by the Chinese government to illegally procure research from American universities, including coronavirus vaccine research”, according to the email
Recently, the US ordered China to close its Consulate General in Houston over allegations of espionage. In retaliation, China ordered US to shut down its Consulate General in Chengdu.
The US State Department had ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, over accusations that it engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations in the US.
The tension between the two countries have been rising over a range of issues in recent times. China’s move to impose national security law in Hong Kong, its human rights violation in Xinjiang and territorial aggression in the South China Sea, have all drawn criticism from Washington.
Recently, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul alleged that China’s Consulate General, which the US has ordered to close, is the epicentre of Beijing’s espionage in terms of stealing the bio-medical research.
“I can tell you its really the epicentre of China’s espionage in terms of stealing our bio-medical research. We had three scientists at M.D Anderson that were fired due to allegations of espionage,” McCaul had said.
The Congressman said the Chinese are actively trying to steal the vaccine for COVID-19.
In recent years, the US has accused China of transferring sensitive technology by enlisting Chinese researchers working in America, and they have come under close scrutiny in the country.
The US charged four Chinese nationals with visa fraud in July itself, for allegedly lying about their military ties during the visa application process and amid allegations of Chinese theft of US intellectual property.