"A sentencing hearing is a forum to mete out justice for someone convicted of a
crime. But this week, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Julie Robinson used the
sentencing of Franklin Tao, a chemical engineer formerly at the University of
Kansas (KU), Lawrence, to also talk at length about what motivates academic
researchers—and how the U.S. government appeared to misunderstand that culture
in pursuing criminal charges against Tao.
Her remarks are a rare example of a federal judge speaking in public about the
U.S. academic enterprise and its pursuit of knowledge. Tao was convicted last
year of failing to accurately report his interactions with a Chinese university
to KU, which said this week he is no longer a faculty member. But Robinson, who
was appointed by then-President George W. Bush in 2001, says the government
wrongly portrayed Tao’s exploration of an academic job in China as a malicious
attempt to share the fruits of federally funded research with the Chinese
Although Robinson was only speaking about Tao, her comments also raise
questions about how the government has prosecuted some two dozen U.S.
scientists, most of them born in China, under an effort by the administration
of former President Donald Trump to stop Chinese economic espionage. Human
rights groups have said the campaign, called the China Initiative before it was
renamed last year to target all nation-state threats to U.S. economic and
national security, engaged in racial profiling and had a chilling effect on
international scientific collaborations."
Via Dave Farber.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics