The US President Donald Trump issued a declaration banning Chinese students and researchers those with links to China’s military-the People’s Liberation Army to dismantle the efforts of China to use graduate students to obtain intellectual property and technology from America.
Around 3,000 current Chinese students and researchers in the US are thought to be able to be expelled from the country or denied reentry and visa renewals as a consequence. Undergraduates aren’t affected.
Trump said China is engaged in a wide-ranging and heavily resourced campaign to acquire sensitive US technologies and intellectual property to revitalize its massive military.
The move is an attempt to limit the Chinese government’s use of “non-traditional intellectual property collectors” in the US which has become a growing concern as tensions escalate with China.
Trump claimed that China was using some Chinese students, mainly postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, to work as non-traditional intellectual property collectors. Hence, Chinese postgraduate students or researchers who are or have been affiliated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the Chinese authorities and offer specific cause for concern.
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Two Republican congressmen and a senator introduced a bill last month that would prohibit Chinese graduate and postgraduate students from pursuing STEM subject education in the US.
The secretary of state Mike Pompeo in a press briefing said that Our behaviour last Friday is a direct consequence of the PRC government’s strategies and policies that leverage the access to targeted fields of some of China’s brightest graduate students and researchers to redirect and steal critical technology and intellectual property from US institutions, taking unfair advantage of their transparent and collaborative academic and research climate.
“We expect this new visa policy to lead to an improved, open, and transparent climate in which the US and Chinese scholars can have greater trust.”
Over the past two years, China and the US have been engaged in an escalating series of tit-for-tat actions against each other, including trade tariffs and public criticism of the treatment of minorities by themselves.
Esther D Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA, said that the organization was worried about the effect of the decision on international education and critical collaboration in science.
She said, “Policies like this send the wrong message in a global talent market, at a time when we need to attract the best and brightest to our universities and communities”.
The presidential proclamation on the issue describes “anyone who either receives funding from or currently employs, studies or conducts research on or on behalf of an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the ‘military-civil fusion policy’ of the PRC, studied or conducted research on or on behalf of an entity in the PRC.”
Many universities in China, particularly those with expertise in cybertechnology and communications, have military connections because the “military-civil fusion strategy” is ostensibly aimed at promoting research into technology that benefits the military while also having applications for civil trade. This covers areas such as aerospace and artificial intelligence.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the program exposes a deep-rooted “Cold War” and zero-sum mindset that permeates some Americans’ thought and warns the US not to violate the Chinese students’ legal rights in America.
Speaker of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian said the initiative reveals a deep-rooted “Cold War” and zero-sum mentality that permeates the thinking of some Americans and warns the US not to breach the legal rights of Chinese students in America.
However, defence agencies also oversee several universities in China instead of the Ministry of Education and a greater number of house laboratories focused on national defence-related science. Currently, there is no list of which Chinese entities the US would include in the restrictions, but it has the potential to be well over 100.