Taiwanese scientist resigns over conflict of interest allegations

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Dr. Jann-yeng Liu, a top scientist at Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO), resigned Wednesday after it was reported that he had accepted part-time employment in China in conflict with his substantive post. It was discovered that Liu, a chief scientist at NSOP under the National Applied Research Laboratory (NARLabs), had been working part-time at Beijing University of Technology without NARLabs' approval and in violation of its regulations. Liu submitted his resignation as NSPO chief scientist Wednesday, ahead of a personnel examination meeting at NARLabs scheduled for Thursday morning. A professor at National Central University, Liu is known for his research and expertise on earthquake precursors and ionospheric radio science. He was employed by NARLabs in 2012 as a chief scientist in charge of space science development strategies and international cooperation projects. A specialist in earthquake forecasting research, Liu was first invited to China by Beijing University of Technology in 1999 to conduct research on disaster prevention and earthquake precursors. The invitation was issued in the wake of a deadly earthquake in Taiwan on Sept. 21 that year. Impressed by Liu's expertise, Beijing University of Technology in 2013 recommended him for employment in China's overseas experts recruitment program, where he worked with experts from the United States, Japan, Italy, and mainland China on earthquake precursors in the Beijing region. NARLabs recently received reports accusing Liu of violating the regulations on cross-strait academic exchanges. The reports suggested that as a chief scientist in the space organization, Liu might leak sensitive technologies to his counterparts. A spokesman at NARLabs said Thursday that Liu always submitted proper applications before attending academic exchange programs, giving lectures or participating in conferences. NARLabs never turned down those applications because the work of a chief scientist at NSPO is limited to providing consultation and does not include access to sensitive technologies that can endanger national security, the spokesman said. However, by accepting employment in China's overseas experts recruitment program, even in for a short period from October 2013 to September 2016, Liu violated NARLabs regulations that disallow side jobs, the spokesman said. (By Lin Meng-ju and Lillian Lin)