Industrial Espionage: the Cost of Doing Business

It’s not often that a BusinessWeek article title would make a great movie title, but The Plot to Steal the Color White would be sensational. Turns out that making superwhite pigment is a matter of high tech, and the Chinese government recruited a Chinese-Malaysian immigrant, Walter Liew, to steal the technology from Dupont. He recently was sentenced, as was his wife, Christina Liew.

Those of us who follow news like this know that there have been numerous cases, with convictions, usually under confession, complete with copies of messages from China. Once the Wall Street Journal published a list, lengthy but still quite incomplete.

And yet…DOL records show that Dupont hires H-1Bs! Clearly, the industry is upset about such cases, but they dismiss them as the cost of doing business. The H-1B program is that valuable to them. Of course, they maintain that this is because they can’t fill jobs with Americans, but if you believe that, Chris Christie has a bridge to block for you.

To be sure, these cases often include U.S. natives among the perpetrators. That appears to be the case in the Liew incident. But as the article points out,

A 2013 study estimated that China accounted for as much as 80 percent of the $300 billion in losses sustained by U.S. companies from the theft of intellectual property.

Most importantly, note that these immigrants in most cases first came to the U.S. as foreign students, one more reason not to take the “Intels good, Infosyses bad” in setting H-1B policy.



4 thoughts on “Industrial Espionage: the Cost of Doing Business

  1. Norm, this is the argument I’ve been screaming for someone to make for years:

    “Cheap Labor = Cheap Ethics”

    In regards to your recent post about your ASEE presentation, I’d love for you or someone to do a future presentation with this topic.

    It would be hard but should be possible to quantify or at least give numerous examples using the stories from Virgil’s and similar sites.

    Remember the Burt Bacharach song, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”. The lead line was “What do you get when you fall in love…” I’d love for someone to make a video, “What might you get with an H1B? Visa fraud, and white collar crime. Fake universities and flat out lying. I’ll never hire H1B again!”

    A little harsh but you can get the drift.

    The presentation would show the types of incidents that have been encountered in the last couple decades such as:
    – White Collar Crime
    – Industrial Espionage
    – Visa Fraud – Wright State
    – Employment Kickbacks – Employee and Recruiter
    – Data Breaches – OPM and others
    – Misc.

    Could also mention:
    – Lying on Resumes, Interviews
    – False Education and Training
    – Poor or Mediocre Quality of Work


  2. According to the DuPont website, DuPont has a research center in China!! (DuPont China R&D Center, Shanghai China) DuPont is walking into the panda’s den.

    China held the secret to making white porcelain (white gold) for centuries. DuPont held the secret to white pigment for a few decades.


  3. I am concerned about the problems in universities which I believe to be more serious than those in industry.

    The transfer of sensitive technology by researchers to other countries’ universities and government agencies is detrimental to our national security.

    I am amazed at the fraud by faculty members; I have found it to be particularly evident is a clique of foreign born faculty. I have a new case that I am following of travel expenditures against university policies. At least they did not fly first class this time; they have a very checkered past.


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