A number of people have called my attention to a case of alleged industrial espionage by Chinese nationals working in the U.S. These are former foreign students at USC, and are thus likely current or former H-1Bs.
As I’ve mentioned before, the tech industry has stated that foreign students are the best of the foreign workers, and the industry has supported legislation to grant fast-track green cards to them. If the allegations here are true, though, in this case the foreign workers are takers, rather than contributors.
It is interesting to see the USC connection, since that university has often ranked Number 1 in the nation for total number of foreign students, including large numbers from China.
Those contacting me seem to believe that this recent case will galvanize members of Congress to change their pro-H-1B views. But that’s not going to happen. There have been about two dozen cases in the last few years of alleged theft of industrial secrets by immigrant Chinese engineers and scientists, including several convictions, without any mention by Congress in connection to H-1B that I can recall. In fact, I can’t recall industry leaders mentioning it either. The latter may simple consider it the cost of doing business, with the H-1B program being a net gain for them overall. And people in Congress might think, “If the industry doesn’t care, why should we care?”
Such incidents do call into question the attitude among many in the U.S. government that a benefit of the H-1B program is that “We get to steal China’s engineers.” I’ve said that this attitude is silly to begin with, but it appears that in these cases, some institutions in China are stealing back.