China continues to be a key theme on Full Measure. We believe the U.S-China dynamic is one of the most impactful stories we cover. There was a bit of a twist with one story that we did about Chinese-American scientists suffering a case of mistaken identity, with the FBI wrongly accusing them of being spies.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Physicist Xiaoxing Xi says his rude awakening came early one morning in May of 2015.
Xi: These armed agents, you know, with their guns drawn, and they're running into the house, and running around and yell, "FBI, FBI." And so they ordered my wife and two daughters coming out of their bedrooms with their hands raised, and it was very, very scary.
The FBI accused Xi of sending colleagues in China sensitive information about a superconductor device called a “pocket heater." Temple University removed him as chair of its physics department, and his nightmare was officially underway.
But it turns out the FBI was mixed up. Actually, Xi’s communications with his Chinese colleagues were disclosed, perfectly legal, and had nothing to do with pocket heaters.
Sharyl: How did this impact your life?
Xi: Oh, that’s dramatic. That's significant. Most people do not realize that when the government charge somebody, it's not necessarily true, right? So that’s very damaging.
Sharyl (on-camera): The case against Xi was ultimately dropped. He has a lawsuit pending against the government.
Now that’s not to say there aren’t some very real threats from China. There was an estimate that China's stealing up to $600 billion in U.S. trade secrets every year. And it’s challenging the U.S. and around the globe in terms of its influence and what we need to really worry about, which you reported on, Scott.
Scott: Yeah, and we decided to follow this story when we started reading more and more reports out of Latin America about massive Chinese investment there at a time when the U.S. was really starting to scale back a bit, and then perhaps woke up to the situation a bit too late.
In Colombia's capital Bogota, they are digging deep to create the city's first metro system, and doing so in just five years' time.
A project this massive, of this scale and size — currently the largest underway in the entire country — goes a long way in a place like Colombia, where they say it'll create about 17,000 jobs.
But take a closer look at those shiny new rail cars, and you'll see who is helping with all that hiring. The train is Chinese, and so are the companies that won the bids on the $4.5 billion deal to build the metro's first line.
Ingrid Chaves / Executive Director of the Colombian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce: I think China has always had interest in our geographical position, in our economic and political stability. So it makes Colombia the point of attraction to China.
Scott: China has a lot of money.
Scott (on-camera): So, why is this happening? Partially because China tried this in Africa, saw it work, and just kept moving. And then the other reason, experts tell me, is because the U.S. was so focused on what was going on in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and investing so much time and resources there, that they just kind of ignored our nearest neighbors.
Sharyl: Well and Lisa, you reported how China’s influence goes far beyond just Earth.
Lisa: Oh right. They’ve already launched their own space station, and they plan to develop resources on the moon and claim them as their own, both on the lunar landscape, and then they want to strategically harness solar power.
The December splashdown of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever made, Artemis, was the successful conclusion to a mission laying the groundwork to take Americans back to the moon and beyond.
Our biggest rival is putting a tremendous amount of energy into launching a new space station, building bigger rockets, and developing plans that make ours seem a little small.
When I met NASA Administrator Bill Nelson just before Artemis launched, he was keenly alert to China’s geopolitical plans for the moon.
Nelson: Since China has a very good space program, and they say they're going to land on the moon, and they usually do what they say they're going to do in space. So is it beyond the realm of possibility that they land on the south pole where the water is? If there's water, there's rocket fuel — hydrogen and oxygen. The Chinese get there, there's always the possibility that they say, "You stay out. This is our exclusive zone."
Lisa (on-camera): The Pentagon has estimated that China will surpass U.S. capabilities in space by 2045, which is why there’s a real push by some members of the military and Congress to further fund Space Force. Sources we spoke with say they’re not under-estimating China’s ability to use their space program for both economic and military advantage.
Watch story here.