As US hunts for Chinese spies, scientists warn of backlash

Universities in the United States once welcomed the best and brightest scientific talents from around the world. But government officials have become increasingly suspicious that Chinese-born scientists are exploiting the openness of American institutions to steal sensitive taxpayer-funded research at the behest of the Chinese government, writes Amy Qin for The New York Times.

It’s had a chilling effect across campuses that scientists and university administrators say has slowed research and contributed to a flow of talent out of the United States that may benefit Beijing. A recent study conducted by the University of Arizona and the Committee of 100, an organisation of prominent Chinese Americans, surveyed scientists of both Chinese and non-Chinese descent working at academic institutions in the United States on issues of race and ethnicity in science and research. Around half of the Chinese scientists surveyed – including some American citizens – said they felt they were being surveilled by the US government.

Some have blamed the law enforcement programme called the China Initiative, aimed at preventing the Chinese government’s theft of American trade secrets and other acts of espionage. Nearly 2,000 academics at institutions including Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University have signed open letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing concerns that the initiative disproportionately targets researchers of Chinese descent and urging that the programme be terminated.
Full report on The New York Times site