US Congress targets China to recruit scientists | Wall Street Journal Business and Economic News


As part of Washington’s broader response to the growing influence of Asian countries, Congress’s goal is to hinder China’s ability to recruit scientists and scholars in the United States.

A bill to support American research and development recently passed by the House of Representatives would prohibit scientists and scholars from participating in research projects funded by the United States, provided that they also receive support from Beijing.

“For many years, Congress, federal research agencies, national security agencies, and universities have been working hard to eradicate malicious recruitment of foreign talent,” said Randy Feenstra, Republican of Iowa, who proposed the measure. Speaking at a committee hearing on legislation. “It’s time to simply prohibit them from accepting U.S. taxpayers’ money.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian evaded questions about the bill at a regular press conference in Beijing on Monday, saying he was unaware of the matter.

The passage of restrictions by the House of Representatives is another sign of tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Even at the level of academic investigations, it has attracted hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and scholars to the United States. Take a tough stance against China.

The United States, the United Kingdom and their allies on Monday officially blamed the Microsoft Exchange hacking attacks on actors associated with the Chinese government and accused the Chinese government of carrying out a series of “malicious cyber activities.”

The United States also accused four Chinese citizens under the Ministry of National Security of invading the computer systems of dozens of companies, universities, and government entities in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018.

The Biden administration is planning to take a series of measures to protect US interests in the region, including warning investors on the risks of doing business in Hong Kong on Friday. At the same time, Congress is working to punish the Beijing government in trade, human rights, and intellectual property rights.

How to counter Beijing’s attempts to obtain sensitive or proprietary information through methods other than traditional espionage has proven to bother legislators and law enforcement officials. According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 60% of trade secret theft cases and approximately 80% of economic espionage prosecutions involve actions that benefit the Chinese government and are related to China.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian evaded questions about the bill at a regular press conference in Beijing on Monday, saying he was unaware of the matter. [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

The Senate criticized this, proposing a stricter federal review of donations from overseas American higher education institutions. However, after colleges and universities complained that their requirements were onerous and ultimately undermined American innovation, this practice was downplayed when it was included in broader legislation to improve American competitiveness.

Feenstra’s regulations will cause the National Science Foundation to establish a requirement that individuals prove that they are not active participants in the “malicious foreign talent recruitment program.” Although it includes North Korea, Russia, and Iran, it is clearly a Thousand Talents Program aimed at China to attract scientists and entrepreneurs from top US institutions. This initiative supported by the Chinese government is related to several high-profile arrests, including Harvard University professor Charles Lieber, who was prosecuted for making false statements to federal authorities for participating in the program. Lieber has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The American Board of Education, an American university trade organization, said that because China’s talent recruitment plan is the subject of the 2019 Senate report, it has been paying attention to the Thousand Talents plan, said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations. The report concluded that China seeks American research and expertise for its own economic and military interests.

Spreitzer said that Congress has made it clear that they do not want to stop all academic exchanges, and they understand the importance of these research partnerships and academic exchanges.

“We will have to carefully study how to define a talent recruitment plan,” she said. “It would be better if you only focus on specific countries. Any other approach that focuses more narrowly on solving these specific problems is better than prohibiting any academic or academic exchange programs between these countries.”

The passage of restrictions by the U.S. House of Representatives is another sign of tension between the world’s two largest economies [File: Susan Walsh/Reuters]

Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, said that the House’s approach eliminates some of the risks brought about by too narrow focus on China or the Thousand Talents Plan. One of the criticisms of the Chinese plan. Espionage and influence operations.

Weinstein said in an interview: “We don’t want to establish our national security agency to target a country because we want to shoot ourselves in the foot.” “This is not specifically targeted at anyone. For example, this does not apply to China. Researchers. This applies to anyone in the United States who does things that go against the interests of American national security and even against American academic freedom.”

But Tobita Chow, head of the advocacy organization Justice is Global, said the measure could have a corrosive effect on research and stifle cooperation between the two countries.

Zhou said: “All these strikes are based on exaggeration of the threat to researchers from China.” “And I am also worried that many of the reasons are just a deep misunderstanding of the way the Chinese government operates, which contains a lot of intelligence. Some frank racist assumptions about the Chinese people and the Chinese state that have long existed in the organization.”

During the marking period, Feenstra stated that his proposal would not “prohibit the legal exchange of scientific ideas and cooperation”, adding that it still allows researchers to participate in international conferences and other public research exchanges, and they are only receiving support from any relevant country. .

The House of Representatives is piecing together a response to the Senate’s $250 billion American Innovation and Competition Act. Representative Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Science Committee, said that he believes the House and Senate versions may reach agreement before September or October this year.In addition to increasing the authorized expenditure of the National Science Foundation and establishing a new technology council to help the United States compete with China, legislators also hope to add up to $52 billion in emergency funding to attract semiconductor manufacturers to the United States.





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