|Chinese cancer researcher Keping Xie, 55, is under investigation for allegedly spying for China while working at an American university. Photos from South China Morning Post|
By Laurie Chen
Keping Xie, a 55-year-old researcher at the University of Texas in Houston, is the latest in a string of professionals and academics linked to China's "Thousand Talents" programme to be investigated by US intelligence officials for spying on behalf of China.
NBC News cited FBI officials as saying Xie was suspected of sharing advanced cancer research with Beijing, although a spokesman for the bureau refused to confirm an investigation was under way.
He was investigated by federal police in January for suspected fraud, but during a search of his home officers found pornography on his computer, according to police in Houston.
Xie resigned as a gastroenterology professor at the university's MD Anderson Cancer Centre in April before the child pornography charge. He is currently on bail and awaiting trial.
His lawyer told NBC that Xie denied the charges against him and was unaware of the reported espionage investigation.
|Xie resigned as a gastroenterology professor at the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Centre in April.|
According to Chinese media reports, Xie was also employed as a cancer specialist at the Shanghai Oriental Hospital, which is affiliated with Tongji University, through the "Thousand Talents" programme.
US intelligence units have accused Beijing of using the government-led recruitment scheme, which has attracted thousands of Chinese academics and workers overseas since it was established in 2008, to funnel American technology and intellectual property back to China.
It has been flagged in a number of US government reports as a threat to the US economy and security, as concerns over Chinese economic espionage have intensified in recent months because of the trade war.
Beijing censored the term "Thousand Talents" in state media after another participant, Chinese-American engineer Xiaoping Zheng, was arrested by the FBI in August for alleged technology theft.
News of the reported investigation into Xie has been kept under wraps in mainland China, with comments being censored on online posts discussing the story.
The scientist's profile has also been removed from the University of Texas and "Thousand Talents" websites, but is still available on the Shanghai Oriental Hospital site.
Xie, who was born in the east China city of Yixing, completed his graduate studies at the University of Texas. Between 2012 and 2014 he served as chairman of the Houston Chinese Civic Centre, according to his profile on its website.
The University of Texas at Houston MD Cancer Centre and the civic centre in Houston did not immediately reply to the Post's requests for comment, while the Shanghai Oriental Hospital said it did not comment on personnel matters.