Chinese-Americans are more likely to be charged with espionage, according to a new study

The Committee of 100 has just released a comprehensive new study on racial disparities in US prosecutions under the Espionage Act, based on data from court filings featuring 276 individual defendants across 190 cases. They concluded:

Individuals with Asian or Chinese names are punished twice as severely as defendants with more Western names in charges under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA), and 1 in 3 Asian Americans accused of espionage may have been falsely accused. Additionally, jail time for Chinese and Asian defendants is double compared to Western defendants and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is much more likely to publicize alleged "spying" by people with Asian names than alleged "spying" by people with Western names.

Numbers-wise, convictions were brought on 89% of the defendants with Western names, but only for 74% of the defendants with Asian names (demographic and citizenship data is not included in the court filings that the study was based on, so the researchers had to use names as a guide, Googling identities to clear up any questions on ethnicity or race).

These numbers show a larger number of false accusations against people of Asian heritage, suggesting some racist motivations. Worse, these charges have dramatically increased over the past decade:

Prior to 2009, two-thirds of the defendants charged under the EEA were people with Western names, while 16% were people with Chinese names. However, since 2009, the majority of people charged with EEA offenses have been people of Chinese descent.

Even more interesting (read: frustrating) is that nearly half of the people charged under the Economic Espionage Act since 1996 were accused of stealing for the benefit of the Chinese government. By contrast, about 42% were charged with stealing for the benefit of American businesses or persons, while the remaining 12% of alleged thefts benefitted other countries such as Australia and Russia.

Zheng Yu Huang, President of the Committee of 100, said in a press release:

We must recognize the racial stereotyping that the Chinese and Asian American communities have had to deal with for over two centuries, starting with the 'Yellow Peril' of the 19th century to the 'perpetual foreigner' stereotype that still exists today. This research is critical to understanding the racial discrimination and implicit bias that are the byproducts of a rush to ensure national security, which is making America a less attractive place for immigrants of all backgrounds. America is a place of law and justice, where our diversity is our strength.

Racial Disparities in Economic Espionage Act Prosecutions: A Window into the New Red Scare [Committee of 100]

The US is unfairly targeting Chinese scientists over industrial spying, says report [Eileen Guo / MIT Technology Review]

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