The Lawfare Podcast: Dr. Charles Lieber and the China Initiative

Jen Patja, Jacob Schulz, Emily Weinstein, Margaret Lewis
Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
Brookings

On December 21, Harvard University chemist Dr. Charles Lieber was convicted of making false statements and other tax offenses in connection with his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents program. Lieber’s case got a lot of attention, both because of his profile as a well known researcher at Harvard University, and because of the case’s connection with the U.S. government's occasionally controversial three-year-old program called the China Initiative. The program was unveiled in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and has been used by the Justice Department to investigate and charge a variety of wrongdoings connected with the Chinese government, economic espionage, research security, and other issues.

To talk through the Lieber case and the China Initiative generally, Jacob Schulz sat down with Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall Law School. Emily and Margaret have written extensively about the China Initiative and provide thoughts on the Lieber case, as well as what to make of the initiative as a whole.


Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Jacob Schulz is the former managing editor of Lawfare. He previously served as deputy managing editor and associate editor. He hails from Pennylvania and attended Amherst College.
Emily Weinstein is a Research Analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), focused on Chinese innovation and domestic S&T policies and development.
Margaret Lewis is a Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School whose research focuses on law in China and Taiwan with an emphasis on criminal justice and human rights. Professor Lewis has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at National Taiwan University, a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on United States-China Relations and a delegate to the US-Japan Foundation's US-Japan Leadership Program. She is also a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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