People’s Republic of China Contacts Sink Security Clearance Application
It seems everyday you hear about technology, trade secrets or proprietary theft by foreign agents acting on behalf of China and it is well known their aggressive cyber-espionage threat, not only to the United States, but the entire world is high. The U.S. State Department has established a “One China” foreign policy lumping Hong Kong and Taiwan together with China imposing restrictions on the business dealings and transfer of U.S. restricted, military, and dual use technology. Additional scrutiny is added for security clearance applicants who have ties or contacts with foreign nationals from these countries. Here is a summary of a Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) case that involved foreign influence from China:
The applicant was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China. She moved to the U.S. in 2002 to pursue a graduate degree and obtained both a Master’s and Doctorate degree by 2011. She was naturalized in 2017. She got a job working for a defense contractor in 2016 and now has applied for a security clearance. On her SF-86 she listed her family members who are still citizens of China and live there. She also listed foreign national friends who live in Hong Kong and Taiwan. She admitted to traveling to China annually between 2011-18 to visit her family.
Due to the foreign influence concerns the DoD declined to grant her clearance eligibility and she subsequently appealed to DOHA. In her appeal she admitted to each foreign influence allegation and presented no additional information that would mitigate the concern. The judge in this case opined although the applicant is a U.S. citizen and has lived in the U.S. for over ten years, the threat of her family being used by the Chinese government to influence her to provide classified information was too great and denied her appeal.