Donald Trump Bars Some Chinese Scientists from University Labs

SHANGHAI, CHINA - DECEMBER 6: (CHINA OUT) A worker performs a CD4 HIV test at a lab of Shanghai Xuhui District Central Hospital on December 6, 2006 in Shanghai, China. Shanghai's medical researchers have made breakthrough progress in the development of CD4 test reagent, which can largely lower the expense …
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President Donald Trump is barring some Chinese scientists from U.S. university laboratories after years of science spying directed by China’s government.

“I have determined that the entry of certain nationals of the [Chinese government] seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” Trump said in a May 29 statement that was drowned out by media coverage of city riots.

The move to exclude government-linked Chinese workers is symbolic. It will only affect a small share of the young Chinese scientists who displace young American scientists from the nation’s prestigious and competing research laboratories.

It is unclear if the policy will help get Americans back into Fortune 500 careers from which they are now being excluded by CEOs’ use of various visa programs, such as the H-1B program.

Trump’s decision comes as he and his staff debate whether to curb the various program amid the economic crash caused by China’s coronavirus. Those programs have helped send millions of white-collar jobs to India, and have displaced at least one million U.S. graduates from their chosen careers. The policies are very unpopular among voters — but are being defended by lobbyists for Fortune 500 companies.

The Trump statement described how officials in the People’s Republic of China:

use some Chinese students, mostly post‑graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.  Thus, students or researchers from the PRC studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern.

In reality, the Chinese “students” are trained scientists who are hired to work as killed employees in the nation’s laboratories.

The laboratory managers and employers, who are dubbed “Principle Investigators,” often prefer to hire Chinese and Indian laboratory workers because they are relatively cheap and will work long hours. The employers want cheap, skilled labor because they are racing against each other to get novel drugs and other technologies to the patent office.

These laboratory workers are allowed to take jobs in the United States via the H-1B, J-1, Optional Practical Training (OPT), and other programs. Imported workers hold roughly half of these jobs in the academic sector.

The Chinese government is using these labor programs to get advanced U.S.-taxpayer funded training for generations of Chinese researchers and also to build its “Thousand Talents” technology-theft program. These policies have produced spectacularly successful researchers and have helped China gain the lead in some critical technologies, including the 5G communications gear.

Trump’s policy allows the unrestricted use of Chinese workers for commercial research while directing the Departments of State and Homeland Security to block China’s “military-civil fusion strategy”:

For the purposes of this proclamation, the term “military-civil fusion strategy” means actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.

The universities will fight to keep their imported workforce, according to the New York Times:

American universities are expected to push back against the administration’s move. While international educational exchange is prized for its intellectual value, many schools also rely on full tuition payments from foreign students to help cover costs, especially the large group of students from China.

The visa cancellation could affect at least 3,000 students, according to some official estimates. That is a tiny percentage of the approximately 360,000 Chinese students in the United States. But some of those affected might be working on important research projects.

Science and business advocates defend the practice of relying on Chinese labor, saying that most of the Chinese scientists want to stay in the United States instead of returning to China. But the advocates try to prevent public debate over the huge displacement of American graduates from Fortune 500 careers.

Trump’s move comes after Congress exposed the failure of President Barack Obama to counter China’s spying programs. Breitbart News reported in November 2019 that:

Careless elites in government and in universities help the Chinese government steal U.S. technology and get taxpayer funding for Chinese research, according to a bipartisan report by the Senate investigations committee.

“This report follows an eight-month investigation into how the American taxpayer has, in effect, unwittingly funded research that has contributed to China’s global rise over the past 20 years,” GOP Sen. Rob Portman said November 19.

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