The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI,

The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage ❰Reading❯ ➽ The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage Author Mara Hvistendahl – Thomashillier.co.uk A riveting true story of industrial espionage in which a Chinese born scientist is pursued by the US government for trying to steal trade secrets, by a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfictionIn A riveting true and the PDF/EPUB é story of industrial espionage in which a Chinese born scientist is pursued by the US government for trying to steal trade secrets, by a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfictionIn September , sheriff s deputies in Iowa encountered three ethnic Chinese men near a field where a farmer was growing corn seed under contract with Monsanto What began as a simple The Scientist PDF \ trespassing inquiry mushroomed into a two year FBI operation in which investigators bugged the men s rental cars, used a warrant intended for foreign terrorists and spies, and flew surveillance planes over corn country all in the name of protecting trade secrets of corporate giants Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer In The Scientist and the Spy,Hvistendahl gives a gripping account of this unusually far reaching investigation, which Scientist and the Epub ß pitted a veteran FBI special agent against Florida resident Robert Mo, who after his academic career foundered took a questionable job with the Chinese agricultural company DBN and became a pawn in a global rivalryIndustrial espionage by Chinese companies lies beneath the United States recent trade war with China, and it is one of the top counterintelligence targets of the FBI But a decade of efforts to stem the problem have been largely ineffective Through previously unreleased FBI files and her reporting from across the United States and China, Hvistendahl describes a long history of shoddy counterintelligence on China, much of it tinged with racism, and questions the role that corporate influence plays in trade secrets theft cases brought by the US government The Scientist and the Spy is both an important exploration of the issues at stake and a compelling, involving read.


10 thoughts on “The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage

  1. Todd Wright Todd Wright says:

    What makes a bad book bad This is a classic example The author has an interesting premise and has mastered the mechanics of writing but the finished product leaves you wishing she had written a journal article instead of a book.She had an interesting story to tell but the book goes wildly off the rails when she begins to include personal anecdotes in a failed attempt to bolster her credibility Then to fill space she she pads her research with opinions and speculation Hvistendahl has forgotte What makes a bad book bad This is a classic example The author has an interesting premise and has mastered the mechanics of writing but the finished product leaves you wishing she had written a journal article instead of a book.She had an interesting story to tell but the book goes wildly off the rails when she begins to include personal anecdotes in a failed attempt to bolster her credibility Then to fill space she she pads her research with opinions and speculation Hvistendahl has forgotten the journalist s maxim abandon opinions to learn the truth I couldn t finish the book, instead I simply googled the incident Farsatisfying


  2. Frank B Frank B says:

    In 1876, Englishman Henry Wickham smuggled rubber tree seeds out of theultimately ending Brazil s rubber boom The stolen seeds were successfully germinated, leading to the British establishing rubber plantations in Malaya that broke Brazil s monopoly and sent the states of as and Par into rapid decline The Opera House in Manaus, capital of as, is a melancholy reminder of the luxury rubber profits once afforded Much as rubber seeds once were, genetically engineered or mod In 1876, Englishman Henry Wickham smuggled rubber tree seeds out of theultimately ending Brazil s rubber boom The stolen seeds were successfully germinated, leading to the British establishing rubber plantations in Malaya that broke Brazil s monopoly and sent the states of as and Par into rapid decline The Opera House in Manaus, capital of as, is a melancholy reminder of the luxury rubber profits once afforded Much as rubber seeds once were, genetically engineered or modified, ie GM corn seeds have become valuable enough in the 21st century that some will resort to anything to get them Mara Hvistendahl s The Scientist and the Spy is a riveting true crime read that uses the case of Robert Mo, an employee of the Chinese agricultural company DBN, to investigate how the theft of trade secrets is now a major battlefield in the Cold War between China and America The book raises a number of questions which do not have simple answers Do these thefts across a range of industries costing the US economy dearly count as industrial espionage and threaten national security How can the US react rationally to the theft and not resort to panic and xenophobia The story starts in 2011 when an Iowa farmer spots a Chinese man in a field owned by agri giant Monsanto and calls the police American companies Monsanto and Dupont Pioneer have hybrid seeds that produce bumper crops, are resistant to pesticide and, of considerable commercial importance, only germinate once requiring farmers to repurchase seed each season In 2010, indeed, China limited the import of GM seeds partly to stop American companies from dominating the Chinese domestic market So, if a Chinese company like DBN had these hybrids, they could gain control of the domestic market and offer cheaper alternatives to western strains in the international market As hybrid corn seeds are the result of some serious research and development it s fair to call them intellectual property but should the FBI and the Justice Department work to protect this corporate IP On the Chinese side, when it comes to science and technology, the government has shown little compunction about taking short cuts No wonder, then, that some companies hire hackers to tunnel into the servers of their American competitors and then swipe designs for their latest product, or that some researchers are tempted to steal work from elsewhere, particularly if it has commercial potential DBN needed the inbred parents of a strain The female inbred can be reverse engineered, but the male needs to be collected from the field this is where Robert Mo comes in Does DBN s hair brained scheme count as espionage as the Corn giants and the FBI call it or just one company stealing off another This issue was debated in Robert Mo s trial, but the answer is still not clear cut To put things into context, DBN was not taking technology that would allow them to create weapons.Robert, whose Chinese name is Hailong, grew up in a tiny village in Sichuan Province In America, despite having two PHDs, he can t make ends meet in an academic research job and so, through a family connection back in China, gets a well paid job at DBN Along with the legitimate part of his work, sourcing pig feed, he is tasked with stealing corn seeds and sending them back to China marked with code numbers Hvistendahl builds the tension nicely Mo first becomes a person of interest for the FBI and as they begin to close in she works scientific and judicial details into a narrative that has just enough action to hook the reader.The FBI continues a cat and mouse game with on Chinese driving through Iowa filching seeds and the rural midwest comes to life through Hvistendahl s descriptions They passed diners the served sandwiches smothered in Thousand Island dressing, drinking establishments with neon signs in their windows that simply said BAR and corn paraphernalia of all kinds The FBI uses local police, border patrol and customs officers to get information The other DBN employees leave for China, but Roger, whose life in America, is trapped He is not street smart enough to save himself his ruthless boss Dr Li sees him as expendable The author visits Robert in federal prison and adds to her nuanced portrait of him by including a translation of one of his poems The story is not just about China stealing but also about America s problematic reaction to the threat The post Cold War Clinton administration passed an industrial espionage act, but after 9 11, the war on terror took the FBI s attention away for another decade When the FBI got around to dealing with Chinese espionage, the approach was troublesome One trope in particular cropped up again and again This was the idea that China commanded an army of amateur intelligence collectors of which Robert was just one part or, as Newsweek columnist Jeff Stein put it, that Robert was among the locusts in a swarm feasting on American technological secrets Hvintendahl takes exception to this blanket labelling the majority are not locusts and so she investigates the history of the FBIs approach to Chinese espionage The FBI has been overzealous in suspecting Chinese scientists and students in the USA The rationale being that the Chinese government targets all ethnic Chinese to collect information In the 1990s FBI analyst Paul Moore came up with the thousand grains of sand theory to describe Chinese intelligence gathering Moore claims that while Russia and the US use James Bond style tactics, the Chinese utilise a large number of amateurs loyal to the motherland sending through tidbits of information that are somehow pieced together However, the truth is the Chinese incentivise a small number to become agents through money and sex like any other country s intelligence operation Hvistendahl includes a number of dubious cases brought against Chinese scientists America relies on Chinese talent in its labs and so the possible risk here is that the FBI is playing into the Chinese government s hands and forcing these scientists back to China as they feel persecuted in the US.The American corporate giants, Monsanto and Pioneer said it was their intellectual property being stolen and the FBI and Justice Department worked hard to protect them But what if the Chinese had enough money simply to buy them How loyal would they be to the USA then Monsanto was recently bought by German company Bayer and the Monsanto name has been retired as it carries negative connotations, brought about by its cancer causing pesticides So Monsanto is not even American any The line between big business and government is not clear, but it would be unlikely that, for example, DBN would be allowed to sell itself to a non Chinese buyer What if Dupont Pioneer and Monsanto decided to merge Would antitrust legislation be able to stop them They already collude on raising seed prices.The Scientist and the Spy is broken down into thirty nine short chapters, which leads to readability but some fragmenting of the many strands of the Mo case However, this is a fascinating, well written and well researched book In the end it teaches usabout America its institutions and what big business can get away with than it does about China, this perhaps is a welcome surprise


  3. Katie (katieladyreads) Katie (katieladyreads) says:

    Finished Absolutely wild Super thought provoking Def hoping to continue to follow this story in the news thank you again to riverheadbooks for the free copy I ll be thinking about this one for awhile


  4. Nick Nick says:

    Hvistendahl presents a thoroughly researched and engaging account of a case of economic espionage against a Chinese citizen She does an excellent job factually breaking down the components of the case while providing background and context that caution the US against being overzealous in its application of law enforcement methods However, the overall message of this book breaks down as Hvistendahl tries to reconcile the dangers of ethnic profiling versus the actual economic espionage going on Hvistendahl presents a thoroughly researched and engaging account of a case of economic espionage against a Chinese citizen She does an excellent job factually breaking down the components of the case while providing background and context that caution the US against being overzealous in its application of law enforcement methods However, the overall message of this book breaks down as Hvistendahl tries to reconcile the dangers of ethnic profiling versus the actual economic espionage going on in the world today At times Hvistendahl s insight is excellent, but she falls short of the admittedly challenging task of tying the whole story together.Hvistendahl does an adequate job highlighting the potential pitfalls of conducting an investigation into a politically sensitive issue that can result in racial profiling However, it is difficult to see where this narrative fits in with the main story about a Chinese citizen who was caught red handed in corn fields and mailing seeds in pursuit of the theft of trade secrets On the one hand, the example Hvistendahl uses to highlight the threat of economic espionage from Chinese citizens was started in a legitimate and traditional way a tip from local authorities and used traditional law enforcement and investigation techniques surveillance, confidential human source, interviews, etc However, Hvistendahl then describes other cases where racial profiling was present or law enforcement techniques in appropriately used to accuse innocent people of serious crimes In the end, Hvistendahl does not reconcile these competing narratives Has the FBI overcome the mistakes of the past, or is it making the same mistakes again The reader gets a sense that Hvistendahl brings up the previous abuses of law enforcement in investigating law abiding scientists and students to serve as a warning, but she, again, does not reconcile this with the straightforward case of the theft of seeds.One major gap in this book is that Hvistendahl does not reconcile her suggestion that law enforcement overreached in the main case with the publicly available resources on how federal law enforcement investigations are conducted She suggests that the use of an airplane and a FISA warrant overreach, but she does not address that these are perfectly acceptable techniques in any investigation as long as they are limited in scope and obtain information that is not available in any other source To suggest that law enforcement overreached is to suggest that the information being sought could have been obtained in a less obtrusive manner, or that the information being obtained was irrelevant to the prosecution Hvistendahl suggests neither.One of the most insightful points that is not followed up on enough comes when Hvistendahl talks about how China scholar Peter Mattis has described how we can view Chinese espionage, both state sponsored and that of private companies, as similar to traditional espionage conducted by any country or company This perspective provides the solution to the problems of racial profiling and law enforcement overreach That is, the government should simply treat a Chinese spy as they would a Russian spy and the theft of trade secrets of a Chinese company as that of a German company The biggest weakness of Hvistendahl s book is that she does not address how several of the points she explores can be true at the same time Chinese state and non state actors have a strong interest in both stealing US state and trade secrets and undermining mitigation efforts by any means possible, including inflating concerns about racial profiling This is not to suggest that racial profiling does not exist though Where it does, it should be confronted by supervisors, politicians, and judges for individuals to be held to account.Hvistendahl could have also discussed about how inexperience and incompetence are possible factors in the failure of some investigations Also, Hvistendahl should have considered what the posture of the US government and the public should be towards bringing investigations to trial If only the strongest cases are brought to trial, the US would end up with a system like Japan that is criticized for its high conviction rate and low possibility of success for the defense at trial If all investigations are brought to trial, too many innocent people have their lives upended unfairly The unfortunate result is that some people found to be innocent will have their lives upended Many of these people will truly be innocent, but in some cases criminals will get away with crimes thanks to incompetence by the investigators and prosecution or thanks to a tight defense The balance has to be drawn in a way that protects the innocent while challenging potential criminals who are actually good enough at their schemes to minimize the evidence left behind while securing a good defense


  5. Jeep Gidi Jeep Gidi says:

    Simple story, biased author, not worth the timeThis is a pretty straightforward story of Chinese spying that could have been told in one chapter Author seems to have little problem with Chinese espionage Disappointing book and the author s bias was evendisappointing.


  6. Russell Atkinson Russell Atkinson says:

    As a retired FBI agent who worked both foreign counterintelligence against China and Economic Espionage cases, I found this book fascinating I did not know of this particular case before reading the book, and have no preconceived notions about the case itself The prose flows smoothly here with the author s engaging style Her research is good but I got the impression there was a slight pro China or at least pro Chinese individuals leaning in her writing, which is only natural for someone who s As a retired FBI agent who worked both foreign counterintelligence against China and Economic Espionage cases, I found this book fascinating I did not know of this particular case before reading the book, and have no preconceived notions about the case itself The prose flows smoothly here with the author s engaging style Her research is good but I got the impression there was a slight pro China or at least pro Chinese individuals leaning in her writing, which is only natural for someone who spent years there and no doubt has many friendships and deep roots there.Investigating and prosecuting economic espionage cases is a very complex business and much of the investigator s job cannot be brought out or appreciated in a book of this nature Still, I think the author does a good job of discussing how victim companies are in a bind when the FBI or any law enforcement becomes involved and almost adversarial to the government in such cases I wish she had spent a littletime on that The criminal prosecution complicates their business, often threatening to reveal their trade secrets in court If civil litigation is in process, which it usually is, the defense is handed the argument that the victim company is using the government as their agent or their investigator The argument goes that the government shouldn t put its finger on the scales of what is essentially a business dispute My view is that a theft is a theft whether the victim is Molly s Hair Salon or Megacorp and law enforcement should investigate crimes and prosecute thieves A crime victim should be allowed to cooperate with law enforcement without being punished for it.One glaring omission for those of us in the field is the issue of adequate protection In order to have a crime under the EEA of 1996, whether trade secret theft or economic espionage, it is necessary to prove that the trade secret was in fact a secret, i.e that it was sufficiently well protected The defense will always claim that it wasn t really a secret, or not well protected enough to be considered secret In effect the argument becomes, if my client was able to steal it, then it must not be a trade secret and therefore not a crime The crime, in effect, doesn t ever exist I consider the argument to be specious The author confuses this issue with the technological value of the thing stolen A trade secret doesn t have to be technology at all In fact, the most valuable trade secret in most companies is a Rolodex with names of customers or suppliers It can be internal pay records and personnel performance reviews It seems to me that the issue of protections afforded or not to the corn seed lines was, or should have been, a major issue in this case, yet it was little discussed


  7. Clara Patricia Clara Patricia says:

    Note The copy I have with me is the uncorrected version, which I have won through a raffle by Fully Booked called 20 Reads for 2020 I cannot cite the book as such, and will still have to refer to the officially published version However, I believe that I somehow have the very skeleton of the book to be released on 04 February 2020 The book, despite being a non fiction account of the case of Hailong Mo, reads like an action suspense novel I finished the book in such a short time because I ca Note The copy I have with me is the uncorrected version, which I have won through a raffle by Fully Booked called 20 Reads for 2020 I cannot cite the book as such, and will still have to refer to the officially published version However, I believe that I somehow have the very skeleton of the book to be released on 04 February 2020 The book, despite being a non fiction account of the case of Hailong Mo, reads like an action suspense novel I finished the book in such a short time because I cannot put it down I wanted to know what happened next Hvistendahl did an excellent job in writing simply whilst providing the reader with a background on industrial espionage both from the American and Chinese perspectives She also suspends bias and is critical of the racial profiling evident from how the FBI handled several alleged trade defense scientific secret theft cases She illustrates how industrial espionage has always been an existing issue overshadowed by terrorism Using numerous sources ranging from firsthand interviews as well as court proceedings and news articles, Hvistendahl writes a compelling account of the economic espionage cases and its effect to a nation long hailed as the epitome of democracy an ironic claim for various nationalities that make up America


  8. Ken Hammond Ken Hammond says:

    Who knew spying about corn could be so interesting I now know a lotabout corn than I should know, or need to know But we live for those moments don t we.


  9. Mary Mary says:

    This gripping true account of the attempt by the FBI to stop the theft of agricultural trade secrets by a group from China also deals with the related issue of racial profiling in U.S crime enforcement.


  10. Brian Brian says:

    The bias demonstrated by the author comes through clearly which casts some doubt on how true is this True Story of China When Nancy Pelosi implores Europe to avoid Chinese technology I begin to wonder what she has learned from security sources in camera For me, Pelosi has lots of integrity The book is, however, well written and presents its case forcefully, especially on the impact on US business and citizens.


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