May 13, 2020

The United States Can’t Afford to Turn Away Chinese Talent

By Elsa B. Kania and Lindsay Gorman

Intellectual property theft is a real concern, and China has been the world’s foremost infringer. But a blanket exclusion of Chinese students from U.S. academic and scientific research is not a reasonable response—and risks harming America’s critical comparative advantage: the strength and vitality of its research enterprise and innovation ecosystem. Implementing such a blunt cudgel would undermine the very engine of innovation that it seeks to protect, at a time when the United States is engaged in an ongoing and intensifying competition for global talent.

Certainly, both Republican and Democratic U.S. policymakers are right to be exploring options to take action against technology transfer. China’s party-state has undertaken extensive campaigns of industrial espionage over decades to enable the transfer of critical technologies and the theft of intellectual property from the United States. Such efforts have corresponded with Beijing’s strategic priorities, including self-driving cars and semiconductors. Among a range of tactics, academic exchanges and research partnerships can be leveraged to those ends. Such efforts can bolster China’s military modernization or facilitate party-state coercive capabilities that enable human rights atrocities, thus threatening U.S. security and principles.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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