Tennessee scientist is first to go on trial on charges he hid work in China

Until last year at the University of Tennessee, Anming Hu studied, among other things, how to join certain metals together using materials that are more than 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. He also ran a group developing similar nanoscale technologies at an institute in Beijing.

Mr. Hu’s research has a range of potential applications including fixing turbines and printing sophisticated electronic sensors. On Monday, prosecutors began presenting their case in court, alleging that Mr. Hu hid his China collaborations from the U.S. government while also receiving National Aeronautics and Space Administration grants for his work in Tennessee.

The trial in Knoxville is the first after a slew of arrests of researchers and years of rising concerns among U.S. authorities that American taxpayers are unwittingly funding Chinese scientific development and boosting China’s drive for global pre-eminence

Mr. Hu faces charges of wire fraud and making false statements related to his work in China. A native of China and a naturalized Canadian citizen, Mr. Hu has pleaded not guilty.

The Justice Department has charged around a dozen academics in the past two years with concealing China work while receiving U.S. government grants. Among them are star nanotechnology experts at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their defenders, like Mr. Hu’s, say they are innocent and are being prosecuted for administrative errors in an environment that has become hostile to academics with China connections. Several researchers at other schools have pleaded guilty.

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