Texas A&M professor leading NASA research allegedly hid improper China ties

A Texas A&M University professor has been arrested and charged with lying about his contacts with the Communist Chinese, which were prohibited under the terms of his taxpayer-funded grant.

According to the Justice Department, 53-year old Zhengdong Cheng led a team conducting research for NASA.

While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities. These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law.

Dept. of Justice news release

Read the entire news release from the Department of Justice below:

NASA Researcher Arrested for False Statements and Wire Fraud in Relation to China’s Talents Program

Texas A&M University Professor Working on U.S. Space Projects Allegedly Hid Affiliations with Chinese State Owned Academic and Commercial Institutions

A criminal complaint has been unsealed today, charging Zhengdong Cheng, 53, of College Station, Texas, for conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud. 

Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 10 a.m. in Houston, Texas.  Authorities took him into custody Sunday, Aug. 23. 

Cheng allegedly led a team conducting research for NASA. According to the criminal complaint, for several years he willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company.  The terms of Cheng’s grant prohibited participation, collaboration or coordination with China, any Chinese-owned company or any Chinese University, according to the charges.

“Once again, we have witnessed the criminal consequences that can arise from undisclosed participation in the Chinese government’s talent program,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Professor Cheng allegedly made false statements to his university and to NASA regarding his affiliations with the Chinese government.  The Department of Justice will continue seeking to bring participation in these talent programs to light and to expose the exploitation of our nation and our prized research institutions.”

“China is building an economy and academic institutions with bricks stolen from others all around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas. “While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities. These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law.”

“As alleged, Zhengdong Cheng knowingly deceived NASA officials about his association with Chinese owned companies and universities, willingly accepted U.S. government funding, and defrauded his university,” said Assistant Director Alan Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.  “The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing those individuals who try and undercut our U.S. research institutions and government agencies by concealing their participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs and to hold them accountable for their actions.” 

“NASA’s funding restrictions are in place to protect taxpayer-financed research dollars and intellectual property,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Zielinski, NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) – Eastern Field Office.  “We will continue pursue anyone who attempts to circumvent these guidelines and conceal affiliations with Chinese institutions and companies in order to obtain NASA grant money.”

“Dr. Cheng is accused of hiding his affiliation with the Guangdong University of Technology, along with other foreign universities, while disregarding the rules established under his NASA contract during his employment at TAMU,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner.  “These alleged actions came to light through the tireless work of the FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-OIG investigative teams.  We are grateful to TAMU, TAMU System and TAMU Engineering Experiment Station for providing significant assistance through their partnership with us throughout this case.”

The charges allege Cheng and TAMU received funds based on Cheng knowingly providing false information to TAMU and consequently to NASA.  In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station, according to the complaint.  This access allegedly allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at Guangdong University of Technology and other universities.  The charges further allege he held senior research positions there unknown to TAMU and NASA and was able to serve in the People’s Republic of China Talents program.  China’s Talents Plans are allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.

The FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of TAMU.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and S. Mark McIntyre are prosecuting the case with the assistance of trial attorney Matthew McKenzie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Visit The Sharyl Attkisson Store today

Shop Now

Unique gifts for independent thinkers

Proceeds benefit independent journalism

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “Texas A&M professor leading NASA research allegedly hid improper China ties”

  1. I’m starting to see why it was imperative that this administration shut down the PRC Houston Consulate. New report from Epoch Times’s “Crossroads” about possible infiltration by the PLA (yes, I said PLA!) into the grassroots BLM organizer networks…out of the Houston Consulate. Great article, will be following this closely under hashtags #HoustonConsulate & #CCPInfluence

  2. We have thousands of Chinese spies here in America, being support by US Taxpayers, taking positions that could have gone to Americans, taking American jobs etc. All with the knowing support of the American government. Our government has and is allowing China to steal intellectual property all in the name of Globalization so people like Hunter Biden can get rich.

    Add to the above the fact that the US allows so many foreign Companies and countries to dump product here in America one does have to wonder who our politicians are working for. Clearly not the American people. And when we get one that does they are vilified and condemned as racists and bigots.

    Time for America to Wakeup

  3. The charge doesn’t describe any actual evidence of any action, zero mention of knowledge transfer accept what people learn in the day to day work, same as any engineer that works for many companies during there career. This is normal for engineers, IT specialists, we work for competitors all the time. Companies do development and some don’t. If we want to be challenged and do interesting work we move companies. This is just the way it has always been.

Scroll to Top