With the entire international community scrambling to find a cure to the novel type of coronavirus called COVID-19, some 10 countries including China are reportedly mobilizing hackers to get their hands on the information on COVID-19 vaccines, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
“China is trying to steal the research data on the development of treatment and vaccines for COVID-19 from the United States. It is aiming to get access to America’s intellectual property and public health data through illegal channels,” warned the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. They pointed out that Beijing is mobilizing students, professors, and researchers instead of agents to steal the information on COVID-19 from America’s universities and private research centers.
Washington has long held the suspicion that China’s “Thousand Talents Program” is part of the country’s broader scheme to poach America’s cutting-edge technologies. The FBI is planning to visit major universities in the U.S. to urge them to beef up security. In January, Charles Lieber, a professor at Harvard University, was arrested for lying about his ties to the Chinese state-run recruitment program. From 2012 to 2017, he was awarded millions of dollars from the Wuhan University of Technology but made a false statement about the payment he received.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been accusing China of being the epicenter of the coronavirus. Against this backdrop, China is retorting hard and experts voice the concern that the latest controversy might further fuel the bad blood between Washington and Beijing.