On a May 2015 morning, a scientist opened his front door in suburban Philadelphia and his life was turned completely upside down.
“It was so urgent, the pounding was so urgent that I run here to open the door without even being fully dressed,” recounted Xiaoxing Xi. He was being interviewed by Bill Whitaker of CBS’ “60 Minutes” for a piece titled “Collateral Damage.
The segment aired on May 15, 2016, and addresses the U.S. government’s fight against economic espionage conducted by China to gain American trade secrets and intellectual property. Xi, the then chair of the Temple University physics department, is the “collateral damage.”
On opening his door that May morning, Xi was greeted with men in bulletproof vests with guns who handcuffed and arrested him on the spot. The men were from the FBI. He was accused of selling U.S. technology secrets to China. In September 2015, the Department of Justice dropped all charges against him. But damage to his career and finances were done.
Sad to say, Xi’s case is not an isolated incident:
In October 2013, two Chinese scientists at Eli Lilly were arrested and jailed for passing proprietary information to a Chinese drug company. Turned out the information was not proprietary after all and the charges were changed to wire fraud.
By Michael Anthony | 09/16/16 This article by Michael Anthony was originally published in MINNPOST and is being reprinted with their permission
Photo by Cory Weaver - San Francisco Opera's production of "Dream of the Red Chamber."
“Who would have thought that this little group from Minnesota would have generated a major world premiere? It’s unbelievable.”
Kevin Smith, president of the Minnesota Orchestra, was speaking to 119 guests at a banquet last Friday, Sept. 9, in the suburban town of Millbrae just south of San Francisco. The banquet, during which an army of waiters delivered a seemingly limitless round of Chinese delicacies – deep-fried milk, sea cucumber, bird’s nest soup, Peking duck – was a prelude to the main event the next evening, the premiere of “The Dream of the Red Chamber,” an operatic treatment by the San Francisco Opera of one of the landmarks of Chinese literature with music by Bright Sheng and libretto by playwright David Henry Hwang.
The seed money for this ambitious $3 million production, which will travel to Hong Kong in March, was raised by the Minnesota-based Chinese Heritage Foundation in an effort to introduce Western audiences to Chinese culture and in the process to promote mutual understanding.
“The great novels of Chinese literature are virtually unknown in the United States, outside of small communities of academics and Chinese speakers,” said Hwang, a Chinese-American best known in the U.S. for his play and subsequent film “M Butterfly,” which received the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play.
“I, too, as a native-born American, had never read ‘Dream of the Red Chamber,’ even though my plays and musicals are often set in China. Particularly because the evolution of the U.S.-China relationship is likely to determine much of the 21st century, this opera presents a valuable opportunity to expose audiences to a work that expresses the essence of China’s history and national character.”
The project arose out of a conversation between two friends, Pearl Bergad and Linda Hoeschler, in Minneapolis in 2001. Born in Vietnam of Chinese parents, Bergad, a retired molecular biologist, is executive director of the Chinese Heritage Foundation. Hoeschler, a long-time arts patron, is the former executive director of the American Composers Forum.