AASF Webinar: The China Initiative and Professor Anming Hu’s Case

December 18, 2021

Professor Anming Hu of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was the first academic to stand trial under the Department of Justice’s China Initiative. After an initial visit from the FBI in 2018, he was charged in early 2020 for fraud and false statements, and the trial took place in June 2021.

When the jury deadlocked, the judge declared a mistrial and the government sought a second trial. That trial never happened because the judge issued a full acquittal on the basis that the government failed to meet its evidentiary burden.

In this webinar, Professor Hu will share his personal experience. Mara Hvistendahl and Jamie Satterfield will provide observations as reporters who closely followed the case. Professor Margaret Lewis will moderate and contribute legal analysis.


Dr. Anming Hu (Impacted Person)

Dr. Hu was a tenured associate professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Dr. Hu was born in China and received his first Ph.D degree on physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China in 1997. He received his second Ph. D degree on laser physics from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Canada in 2008. Dr. Hu became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 2009. Since November, 2013 he was hired by the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, USA, as an assistant professor. He was promoted to a tenured associate professorship in 2019. His study focuses on nanotechnology and laser processing. He was indicted and arrested on February 27, 2020 under the China Initiative of the department of Justice. He was the first professor to go to the trial under the initiative. The court claimed a mistrial in June. In July 2021 the government attempted to retry him, but the federal judge dismissed all accounts against him and acquitted his case in Sept. 9, 2021.

Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl is an investigative reporter with The Intercept and the author of the book The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, on a case that foreshadowed the China Initiative. Mara previously reported for eight years from Shanghai, where she was the China bureau chief for Science. Her first book, Unnatural Selection, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, MIT Technology Review, and WIRED.

Jamie Satterfield

 Jamie Satterfield is an investigative journalist with more than 33 years of experience, specializing in legal affairs, policing, public corruption, environmental crime and civil rights violations. Her journalism has been awarded as some of the best in the nation, earning recognition from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the Green Eyeshade Awards, the Tennessee Press Association, the Tennessee Managing Editors Association, the First Amendment Center and many other industry organizations. Her work has led to criminal charges against wrongdoers, changes in state law and citations in legal opinions and journals. The veracity of her work led authorities to allow her to personally present her investigative findings in the cover-up of the mass poisoning of an American workforce to federal agents and a county grand jury in the fall of 2021. She was married to the love of her life for 28 years and is now a widow and proud mother of two successful children of good character and work ethic. 


Margaret K. Lewis

Margaret K. Lewis is Professor of law at Seton Hall University. Her research focuses on law in China and Taiwan with an emphasis on criminal justice and human rights. She has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at National Taiwan University, a visiting professor at Academia Sinica, a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and a delegate to the US-Japan Foundation’s US-Japan Leadership Program. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her publications have appeared in academic journals including the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and Virginia Journal of International Law. She has participated in the State Department’s Legal Experts Dialogue with China, has testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and is a consultant to the Ford Foundation. Her recent publications include Criminalizing China and Time to End the U.S. Justice Department’s China Initiative