News

Stanford researcher and others allegedly concealed Chinese military ties

Visiting neurologist faces federal visa fraud charge

Chen Song, 38, a Stanford University researcher studying brain disease, was arrested for alleged visa fraud on July 18. Embarcadero Media file photo by Sinead Chang.

A 38-year-old Stanford University researcher has been arrested by federal authorities for allegedly failing to disclose that she was actively working for the Chinese military on her visa application, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.

Chen Song, a Chinese national, faces a fraud charge for allegedly lying on her J1 nonimmigrant visa submitted in November 2018; she entered the U.S. the following month. She stated on her visa application that she served in the Chinese military from Sept. 1, 2000 through June 30, 2011 in response to a question about whether she had ever served in the military. She also said she was employed by Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, according to the Department of Justice.

Song said she was a neurologist who was planning to conduct research on brain disease at Stanford, prosecutors said. A Stanford professor whose lab she worked at told investigators that Song is an expert in myasthenia gravis, according to the federal complaint.

Investigators claim she was a member of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) when she entered the U.S. and the Xi Diaoyutai Hospital was a cover for her true employer, the PLA. A federal court affidavit states that her resume to Stanford shows she co-authored four research articles that indicated her affiliation with institutions that are subordinate to the PLA Air Force. Based on the articles, Song also has ties with the Air Force General Hospital in Beijing and the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU), the affidavit states.

As of July 13, a Chinese health care website listed Song as an attending physician of the Department of Neurology at the PLA Air Force General Hospital. It included a photograph of Song wearing what appears to be a military uniform. A 2015 article identifies her as the doctor at the PLA Air Force hospital who performed an autopsy on the former chief physician of the facility's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Department.

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Through a search warrant, investigators also found that Song allegedly deleted a folder on June 21 from her computer external hard drive titled "2018 Visiting School Important Information." Among the recovered documents, investigators found a letter from Song to the Chinese Consulate in New York. Song said she was extending her time in the U.S. for another year, and allegedly wrote that her stated employer, Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was a false front, which is why she had obtained approval for her extension from the PLA Air Force and FMMU.

The letter further allegedly explained that Chinese military approval documents were classified and she could not transmit them online, the DOJ said.

U.S. federal authorities arrested her on July 18. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Three others have also been charged with visa fraud: Xin Wang, who stated he came to the U.S. to conduct scientific research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is accused of failing to reveal that he is an army major and currently works as a "Level 9" technician in the PLA, employed by a military university lab. He allegedly was instructed by his superiors to study the layout of the UCSF lab and bring back information on how to replicate it in China and duplicated some of his supervising UCSF professor's work in China. He was arrested on June 7.

Prosecutors also filed charges against Juan Tang, a researcher at the University of California, Davis who is allegedly a uniformed officer of the PLA Air Force and worked for the Air Force Military Medical University. She has fled to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco where she has diplomatic protection.

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Kaikai Zhao, a graduate student studying machine learning and artificial intelligence at Indiana University, served in the National University of Defense Technology, the PLA's premier institution for scientific research and education, which is directly under China's Central Military Commission, prosecutors said. Zhao also attended the Aviation University of Air Force, a Chinese military academy analogous to the U.S. Air Force Academy, according to the DOJ. Zhao was arrested on July 18.

The FBI also recently conducted interviews with visa holders suspected of having undeclared affiliation with the Chinese military in more than 25 American cities, according to the DOJ.

"This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party's plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions. We will continue to conduct this investigation together with the FBI," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in the DOJ statement issued July 20.

John Brown, executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, said the U.S. welcomes students, academics, and researchers from across the globe.

"(This) announcement shows the extreme lengths to which the Chinese government has gone to infiltrate and exploit America's benevolence," he said in the statement.

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Stanford researcher and others allegedly concealed Chinese military ties

Visiting neurologist faces federal visa fraud charge

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 23, 2020, 4:28 pm

A 38-year-old Stanford University researcher has been arrested by federal authorities for allegedly failing to disclose that she was actively working for the Chinese military on her visa application, the U.S. Department of Justice announced this week.

Chen Song, a Chinese national, faces a fraud charge for allegedly lying on her J1 nonimmigrant visa submitted in November 2018; she entered the U.S. the following month. She stated on her visa application that she served in the Chinese military from Sept. 1, 2000 through June 30, 2011 in response to a question about whether she had ever served in the military. She also said she was employed by Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, according to the Department of Justice.

Song said she was a neurologist who was planning to conduct research on brain disease at Stanford, prosecutors said. A Stanford professor whose lab she worked at told investigators that Song is an expert in myasthenia gravis, according to the federal complaint.

Investigators claim she was a member of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) when she entered the U.S. and the Xi Diaoyutai Hospital was a cover for her true employer, the PLA. A federal court affidavit states that her resume to Stanford shows she co-authored four research articles that indicated her affiliation with institutions that are subordinate to the PLA Air Force. Based on the articles, Song also has ties with the Air Force General Hospital in Beijing and the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU), the affidavit states.

As of July 13, a Chinese health care website listed Song as an attending physician of the Department of Neurology at the PLA Air Force General Hospital. It included a photograph of Song wearing what appears to be a military uniform. A 2015 article identifies her as the doctor at the PLA Air Force hospital who performed an autopsy on the former chief physician of the facility's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Department.

Through a search warrant, investigators also found that Song allegedly deleted a folder on June 21 from her computer external hard drive titled "2018 Visiting School Important Information." Among the recovered documents, investigators found a letter from Song to the Chinese Consulate in New York. Song said she was extending her time in the U.S. for another year, and allegedly wrote that her stated employer, Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was a false front, which is why she had obtained approval for her extension from the PLA Air Force and FMMU.

The letter further allegedly explained that Chinese military approval documents were classified and she could not transmit them online, the DOJ said.

U.S. federal authorities arrested her on July 18. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Three others have also been charged with visa fraud: Xin Wang, who stated he came to the U.S. to conduct scientific research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is accused of failing to reveal that he is an army major and currently works as a "Level 9" technician in the PLA, employed by a military university lab. He allegedly was instructed by his superiors to study the layout of the UCSF lab and bring back information on how to replicate it in China and duplicated some of his supervising UCSF professor's work in China. He was arrested on June 7.

Prosecutors also filed charges against Juan Tang, a researcher at the University of California, Davis who is allegedly a uniformed officer of the PLA Air Force and worked for the Air Force Military Medical University. She has fled to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco where she has diplomatic protection.

Kaikai Zhao, a graduate student studying machine learning and artificial intelligence at Indiana University, served in the National University of Defense Technology, the PLA's premier institution for scientific research and education, which is directly under China's Central Military Commission, prosecutors said. Zhao also attended the Aviation University of Air Force, a Chinese military academy analogous to the U.S. Air Force Academy, according to the DOJ. Zhao was arrested on July 18.

The FBI also recently conducted interviews with visa holders suspected of having undeclared affiliation with the Chinese military in more than 25 American cities, according to the DOJ.

"This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party's plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions. We will continue to conduct this investigation together with the FBI," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in the DOJ statement issued July 20.

John Brown, executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, said the U.S. welcomes students, academics, and researchers from across the globe.

"(This) announcement shows the extreme lengths to which the Chinese government has gone to infiltrate and exploit America's benevolence," he said in the statement.

Comments

Anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 4:50 pm
52 people like this

It’s about time our government took action on these alleged international criminals.


EffectivelyProtectedByPoliticalCorrectness
another community
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:14 pm
EffectivelyProtectedByPoliticalCorrectness, another community
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:14 pm
20 people like this

Things are so sensitive and complicated now that we cannot discuss these issues of who might be spying or working against our country without feeding the negativity of one extreme side or the other - but it does go on.


Resident
Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm
Resident , Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm
15 people like this

PLA is probably harming their own other citizens who genuinely want to do open research like a lot of foreigners who come to US. Now they all become suspect and undergo investigation.


JO
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2020 at 8:40 pm
JO, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2020 at 8:40 pm
45 people like this

Stanford China Economic Forum should be carefully looked into, particularly the 2019 speakers whose companies are China based. Nationality of speaker is irrelevant, what is important is if the company is headquartered in China. Interesting group of participants at this event.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


resident
Community Center
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:09 am
resident, Community Center
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:09 am
3 people like this

Is there a real crime or is this just a political sham by the Trump administration? Really hard to tell when Donald Trump.


NASA
Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:10 am
NASA , Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:10 am
47 people like this

This is just the tip of the truth! Finally coming!! It’s about time!


Reality Check
Midtown
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:52 am
Reality Check, Midtown
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:52 am
56 people like this

It's heartbreaking how eager America's universities are to prostitute themselves to that totalitarian, genocidal regime. I hope the administrators are haunted by the faces of Uighurs and Tibetans at night.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:59 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:59 am
6 people like this

Wouldn't be too hard on them. We were all under the flawed assumption that trade and engagement would lead to liberalization and reform in China (and Russia).

Turns out not to be true, after all.

To try to assign blame for past perspectives is to rewrite history for all of us.

(lesson to all those activists as well)


Spice harbor
University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:22 am
Spice harbor , University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:22 am
26 people like this

My mother lives in Hong Kong, how is it that nobody in California? sees what horrible things China’s government is doing? and yet they want too profit from China! they are a disruptive force! And they want to be the next super power!


resident
Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:29 am
resident, Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:29 am
4 people like this

"It’s about time our government took action on these alleged international criminals"
"This is just the tip of the truth! Finally coming!! It’s about time!"

Are you really worried about how a Chinese scientist might return to China and tell them about the research they are doing at Stanford on myasthenia gravis?

Apparently, The Trump administration's effort to start a cold war with China is working. It is distracting us from the failure of the US government to have a national strategy that protects us from a growing pandemic, and the failure to protect us from Russian intervention in our elections, and the violence against blacks and minorities in the US, and the separation of children from their parents at the border, and the efforts to suppress public protests, and ....

There are plenty of things in the world that I don't like, but this scientist is not high on my list.


Spice harbor
University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:44 am
Spice harbor , University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:44 am
28 people like this

[Post removed.]


MovingForward
Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:14 pm
MovingForward, Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:14 pm
2 people like this

@spice harbor
What does where one comes from have anything to do with what we are discussing here? There are many folks who are from China that have endured oppression and hardship by the CCP/PLA. Please separate the State from the people, otherwise you are no better than the clown who is “leading” our country. And NO, I am not from China.


Spice harbor
University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:26 pm
Spice harbor, University South
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:26 pm
13 people like this

[Post removed.]


Angelton
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:39 pm
Angelton, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:39 pm
42 people like this

CCP intelligence networks set up throughout the USA have been stealing everything they can get their hands on throughout the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. The FBI director recently called it the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

California looks the other way and pretends it cannot see the CCP's theft and human rights abuses because California's economy benefits from goods produced by cheap and/or slave labor in China and from the massive legal and illegal flow of intellectual property from the USA to China.


Angelton
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:55 pm
Angelton, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:55 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


resident
Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm
resident, Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm
Like this comment

@ Spice Harbor - please, let's try to be civil. I can sense your anger, but not sure if it is constructive.
I am not from China but I stand up for the many Chinese students that I mentor. I am very grateful for the important contributions they make to science and engineering and to the US economy.
I hope that your mother will find the US a safe harbor in the future.


resident
Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:15 pm
resident, Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:15 pm
Like this comment

Oh, I forgot to say that I am not a resident of Palo Verde


Dr. Anonymous, PhD Physics
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 4:49 pm
Dr. Anonymous, PhD Physics, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 4:49 pm
29 people like this

This has been going on well before China came on the scene. While at University of Illinois in Physics ( plus Engineering & Computer Science) grad schools during the '70s, I saw several examples of blatant foreign govt-supported industrial espionage in the Engineering Dept during the 70s. Only, it was Japanese and Korean conglomerates and not Chinese. The EE Dept was very "naive" ( greedy is far more accurate) and took enormous amounts of "free money". Foreign conglomerates would send their best Ph.D's to UIUC to work as post-docs, and they funded the Engineering Dept and its semi-independent laboratories huge sums of $50K to $100K per year to "fund their Trojan Horse research". The post-doc spies stole not only their own UNPUBLISHED research but all other valuable unpublished data and research info they could get their hands on.

So, universities with valuable information have a huge weak spot. Power-mad professors (and their Departments) seeking major academic achievements are willing to "look the other way" to get the best possible grad students. Also, they don't have the ability to vet foreign academics, and the don't trust the US government to vet them because it is mostly politically biased, and grossly incompetent.


resident
Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 5:22 pm
resident, Stanford
on Jul 24, 2020 at 5:22 pm
Like this comment

I can understand if the US government finds evidence industrial espionage, but should we worry about how a Chinese scientist might return to China and tell her colleagues about what she learned about clinical practice in neurology at the Stanford Hospital?


Angelton
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:26 pm
Angelton, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:26 pm
20 people like this

@Resident,

Stop being naive. The FBI knows a lot more about Chen Song beyond the detail disclosed in this article.

The US Air Force has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the last several decades in technologies that would allow a pilot to control an aircraft, or several aircraft, with thought and/or neural implants.

The article says Chen Song has been accused of secretly being a PLA Air Force officer. A PLA-AF spy would be interested in transferring ANY knowledge that would aid PLA-AF researchers pursuing a parallel research path.

"Military Pilots Can Control Three Jets at Once via a Neural Implant"
Web Link

"In the future, Air Force pilots could control planes with their minds"
Web Link


Dr Anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2020 at 8:47 am
Dr Anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2020 at 8:47 am
4 people like this

Postscript: After re-reading my article this morning, it was Japanese and Taiwanese 2-year post-docs associated with government supported foreign tech conglomerates gathering sensitive & other proprietary information, not S Koreans. My apologies. The S Korean tech push came later. I do not know if any of it was classified but it sure was valuable.


George Perez-stillwagon
another community
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm
George Perez-stillwagon , another community
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm
11 people like this

[Post removed.]


Resident
Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 7:36 pm
Resident, Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 7:36 pm
17 people like this

I read that Song Chen's six year old daughter, who was present when Song was arrested, managed to fly back to China the next day. "

"Prosecutors said they suspect the Chinese consulate or government get
Song's daughter out of the country. The girl somehow made the trip to Los Angeles airport the next day after her mother's arrest and was able to board a flight without a parent or a guardian."
----Daily Post


We can look at it two ways:

A) Song sent her there to be safe

B) The Chinese government is keeping her daughter "safe", so that Song will not "sing" to the courts.

I vote for B).


Either way it is not good.


Resident
Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Resident, Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Like this comment

Miss print: " helped get Sing' daughter out of the country


Wocow
Stanford
on Jul 27, 2020 at 9:33 pm
Wocow, Stanford
on Jul 27, 2020 at 9:33 pm
2 people like this

[Portion removed.] If her daughter is here, can she be a spy? She is totally not secretly a PLA, but a rather public one -- she listed it in her resume. And really what to steal. Is this the best the government can do? We need an explanation, as tax payers.


Resident
Midtown
on Jul 27, 2020 at 9:54 pm
Resident, Midtown
on Jul 27, 2020 at 9:54 pm
10 people like this

I forgot to list (C.

(C To keep her daughter safe from the U.S. Government.

Either way it does not look good.


R
Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm
R , Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm
18 people like this

Unfortunately this has been going on for far too long with foreign so-called "students" being funded by the communist chinese and several "other foreigners" doing the same exploitation of all of the U.S. open door institutions eager to take their money. Money & Power are the root cause of this infiltration, subversive actions by bad state sponsored shills.


Angelton
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2020 at 11:24 pm
Angelton, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2020 at 11:24 pm
9 people like this

The disappearance of Song Chen's 6-year-old daughter through LAX instead of nearby SFO raises a number of disturbing questions.

Another local paper is reporting that prosecutors suspect the Chinese consulate or government helped get Song's daughter out of the country. The girl somehow made the trip to the Los Angeles Airport the day after her mother's arrest and was able to board a flight without a parent or guardian.


Atilla C.
Stanford
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:47 am
Atilla C., Stanford
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:47 am
4 people like this

Few points to agree to:

1) Ms. Song withheld information that violates almost all sovereign nation's (must state military affiliation with any work inside of foreign nation to not be charged with espionage, spying, other non-government sanctioned activities) - if it happened in a European nation or some Middle Eastern nation's the result would be the same.
2) regardless of what was found in evidence, we as tax payers may or may not have a right to ALL of the information related to this matter, she has now been disavowed, become a bargaining chip for both nation's, or will be turned.
3) our nation continues to allow foreign nationals to participate in our economy and RDTE sciences because of our goodwill; additionally we are able to benefit by having both foreign national civilians and foreign national military/intelligence services on our soil (works both ways) sometimes it's a risk foreign governments are willing to take unaware or ignorant of the risk of counter-intel /surveillance / culture.
4) freedom is too attractive to operatives from adversarial nation's - if they don't get continuously supplied with currencies, securities, or fear, they eventually realize the benefits of family members participating in the "free" world
5) our civility/awareness of world issues as a nation is pushed beyond recognition. This is the largest resource adversarial governments use against us. Common man's ignorance of the lack of freedoms, the absolute power of fear by governments that do not allow individual freedom, these are the weapons we must destroy. I try to lead by example and treat my fellow foreign students with curiosity, love, and respect but with the "distrust & verify" attitude. No need to adopt complacency around foreign students, researchers, and educators to make them feel comfortable. Just treat them with respect and interest but safeguard information that does not have a need. Control the access to information and simply document the placement of these demographics with sensitive information. We love are non-Americans but don't be dumb about it, build a level of trust but establish limits to the access to sensitive info. How long did it take all relevant / prestigious academic institutions to establish the 2-Duo-Authentication software on public electronic hardware/software? How many STILL don't have it? Labs that allow thumb drives or active USB ports, unlimited bandwidth with monitoring spiked activity, these are all simple ways to monitor sensitive information and document patterns / violations of the most basic access to ground breaking academic info. Mastering the basics should be a priority for academic institutions. Someone said it before, the incentive for most academic institutions these days is uncurbed and almost encourages predictable, dangerous, complacent behaviors. Violations occuring at school brands (FSU, Harvard, USC, etc.) Should be fined by the government / relevant governing stakeholders for losing information that may or may not be priceless. By ensuring everyone is practicing good information and operations securities, you preserve the freedoms of the foreign participants and safeguard the freedoms of Americans to continue participating in ground breaking (even non-ground breaking) research development technologies!


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