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White House Ponders Possible Restrictions on Chinese Researchers

Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2018

The New York Times is reporting the Trump administration's proposal to increase visa restrictions on Chinese nationals to counter, it says, a high level of espionage. Already in place are the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), to prevent transport of sensitive products and information out of the U.S. Companies working in the relevant areas must secure an "export license" before allowing the nationals of designated countries access to related projects. However restrictions on Chinese nationals beyond EAR could include barring them from work on, for example, advanced materials, and making them ineligible for certain types of visas. The discussion takes place against the backdrop of a possible trade war and China's ambitious technological development program "Made in 2025." Proponents also point to the example of a Chinese student at a Pentagon-funded lab whose supervisor grew suspicious of his attempts to share cutting-edge technology with colleagues in China. Indeed, the student returned to China and his company now appears to have developed advanced military technology (an "invisibility cloak") based on his studies in the U.S.

On the other hand, most researchers, including the supervisor himself, do not favor greater restriction on collaboration and information sharing. Current restrictions, they say, are enough to safeguard U.S. security; and the benefit of U.S.-style free information flow well worth the cost. Implementing a more restrictive approach may indeed reduce Chinese access to cutting-edge technological research, but partly because it will destroy the research system that produces it.

Find more about the proposed restrictions here:


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