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Is the Chinese Government-Sanctioned “Thousand Talents Rewards Program” a Vehicle for Trade Secrets Thieves?

In my February 28, 2019 post titled, “Have You Noticed How Trade Secrets Thieves are Circumventing Their Employer’s Computer Monitoring System…Lately? I highlighted the recent indictments of two highly skilled, Ph.D. Coca-Cola employees for allegedly stealing trade secrets.

Beyond raising the issue of how alleged trade secrets thieves are circumventing their employer’s internal computer monitoring program–by simply pulling  proprietary data up onto their screens and taking photographs of their computer screen–(typically with an iPhone)–what also got my attention in the criminal complaint (filed February 12, 2019), was the U.S. prosecutor’s specific mention of China’s Thousand Talents Program.


There’s a fair amount of information on the internet about the program, but this is briefly what Wikipedia has to say:

“The Thousand Talents Plan or Thousand Talents Program was established in 2008 by the central government of China to recognize and recruit leading international experts in scientific research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The program was further elevated in 2010 to become the top-level award given through China’s National Talent Development Plan…

“1000 Talent Plan professorships is the highest academic honor awarded by the State Council,…

“The program has been praised for recruiting top international talent in China, but also criticized for being ineffective at retaining the talent.

“An unclassified U.S. National Intelligence Council analysis highlights that the program threatens the U.S.’s economic base by enabling technology transfer to China.


10. The Chinese government sponsored a program entitled, “The Thousand Talents.” This program was designed to induce individuals with advance technical education, training, and experience residing in Western countries to return or move to China and use their expertise to promote China’s economic and technological development. The Thousand Talents application process was competitive, and those who were selected sometimes received an annual payment from the Chinese government calculated as a percentage of the applicant’s current salary.”

11.  Various provincial Chinese governments had award programs similar to the national Thousand Talent Program. The provincial government for Shandong Province sponsored a program entitled, “Yishi-Yiyi.” Like the Thousand Talents Program, Yishi-Yiyi paid a monetary award to successful applicants with proposals to bring technology to the province.

23.  …China Company #1 agreed to sponsor (accused #1] to China’s Thousand Talent Program so that (accused #2] and China Company #1 could be paid by the Chinese government for their plan to develop technology that they knew to be based upon stolen [Coca-Cola] TSI [Trade Secrets Information.]

24. …[accused #2] caused China Company #1 to agree to sponsor [accused #1’s] application to China’s Yishi-Yiyi project so that [accused #2] and the China Company #1 could be paid by the Chinese government to develop technology that [accused #1] , [accused #2], and Co-Conspirator #1 knew to be derived from stolen [Coca-Cola] TSI.


Does the Chinese government or the administrators of the “One Thousand Talents” or “Yishi-Yiyi” programs, respectively, care how rewards-candidates acquired their research?

The answer is painfully obvious.

Disclaimer: is offered as a service to the professional IP community. While every effort has been made to check information in this blog, we provide no guarantees or warranties, express or implied, with regard to content provided in We disclaim any and all liability and responsibility for the qualification or accuracy of representations made by the contributors or for any disputes that may arise. It is the responsibility of the readers to independently investigate and verify the credentials of such person and the accuracy and validity of the information provided by them. This blog is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

3 comments on “Is the Chinese Government-Sanctioned “Thousand Talents Rewards Program” a Vehicle for Trade Secrets Thieves?

  1. Just curious whether it would be possible to ascertain the proportion of stolen and non-Chinese technology that has contributed to the country’s rise since the seventies. An Asian diplomat said, “80 to 90 percent of PhDs in science and engineering are in Asia. The world is changing, it’s inevitable; three of the four largest economies in the world are in Asia: (China, India and Japan)”. Kishore Mahbubani, Singaporean academic and former diplomat discusses several reasons. (; and

  2. Pingback: China’s Notorious Thousand Talents Program – Equal Opportunity Recruiter – IP PI BLOG

  3. Pingback: Chinese State-Sponsored Espionage (a.k.a. IP Theft) Survey – IP PROBE – Blog

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