Things were tense in the US; Covid-19 was still raging, George Floyd protests were erupting all around the country, and Wang couldn't wait to get home.
But he never made it. Before boarding his flight, Wang was approached by several men who flashed their badges and identified themselves as US federal agents. Wang was then taken into custody and questioned… and he eventually told the agents the truth.
Wang had already been in the US for 18 months at that point working within the University of California system to conduct cutting-edge genomics research. One of the published papers that he co-authored in late 2019, for example, focused on "TMEM131 family proteins in intracellular collagen assembly".
Some of his work had even been funded by the National Institutes of Health.
But Wang confessed to federal agents that day that he was actually a People's Liberation Army officer with the rank of Major, and that he had been ordered by his PLA superiors to "bring back information" about the University of California's research, laboratory, personnel, and more.
This is all tantamount to industrial espionage. And Wang is far from alone.
At an event I attended this past weekend, I had the chance to spend a lot of time with a former CIA officer who spent more than 20 years working at the agency. As a former intelligence officer myself, he and I had a lot to talk about.