By Caitlyn McCoy 

A now-former professor at Texas A&M University has admitted to lying to university officials about his ties to the Chinese Communist Party, according to a press release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Houston Field Office.

Zhengdong Cheng (Texas A&M University)

In a complaint filed by the Department of Justice, Zhengdong Cheng received a grant in 2013 to conduct research for NASA. One of the stipulations of the grant was to avoid working with China on the project as well as disclosing any potential conflicts of interest. 

In an original complaint to the Department of Justice, Cheng was found to be working on China’s “Hundreds Talent Plans” and the “River Talent Plan.” According to the initial complaint, “The Chinese Talent Plans are programs established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology or intellectual property.” 

“Through these plans the Chinese government has created a significant financial incentive for foreign, talented individuals to transfer international technology and intellectual property to China,” the complaint continued. 

Cheng received $746,967 in NASA funds, according to a report by the College Fix

“The FBI prioritizes investigating threats to academia as part of our commitment to preventing intellectual property theft at U.S. research institutions and companies,” the FBI Office in Houston stated in a news release. 

Cheng was first arrested in 2020 for conspiracy, making false statements, and wire fraud. The FBI plans to focus on intellectual property theft charges. 

Cheng pleaded guilty to lying to Texas A&M University after revealing his working relationship with a Chinese university and at least one business in China. Guangdong, one of the confirmed businesses Cheng was working with, is managed by the People’s Republic of China. 

Local outlet KBTX reported that Cheng will not serve any more jail time, as he has already spent 13 months in jail. Cheng is ordered to pay restitution to NASA, in addition to a criminal penalty fine.

Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party has held and continues to maintain a significant presence in American academia for decades. Students, their parents, alumni, faculty, and community members must take a stand against this terrible regime and ensure that its reach into the minds of young Americans is destroyed.