A small group of biostatisticians and engineers from Princeton, Harvard, and MIT, found through the survey, that Chinese scientists working in the US no longer feel welcome in the country.
In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team described how they analyzed surveys taken by 1,304 Chinese academics working in the US and what they discovered.
Back in 2018, the Trump administration set up what is now known as the Chinese Initiative—a program designed to find Chinese spies working in the U.S. One of its main goals is to find spies working in academia, which if found, would reduce the supposed transfer of technology from the US to China.
As part of the initiative, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) began arresting suspected academic spies and trying to prosecute them. Most such efforts have failed due to a lack of evidence. The China Initiative was canceled when President Biden won the 2020 election. But as researchers found with a new effort, the initiative had lasting effects.
During the initiative, Chinese, and even Chinese American scientists working in the US fell under suspicion regardless of their activities or work. This resulted in the fear of unfounded prosecution, which led many Chinese scientists to leave the US, or at least to consider doing so.
It also led to a sharp decline in communications between US scientists collaborating with Chinese colleagues—a trend that continued even after the initiative’s cancellation. In this new effort, the research team wanted to discover how Chinese and Chinese American scientists feel about working and/or living in the US
For that purpose they first conducted an analysis of 200 million scientific papers looking for trends in China’s scientific endeavors. They found that Chinese scientists in the US continue to return to China in large numbers.
The research team created and sent out a survey aimed at learning more about how Chinese and Chinese American scientists feel about working and living in the U.S. They received 1,304 responses and after studying it , found that more than a third of respondents reported feeling unwelcome. in the US and 72% reported feeling unsafe. Also, 86% of them report that it is more difficult to recruit top-tier international students compared to five years ago.
Yu Xie et al, Caught in the crossfire: Fears of Chinese-American scientists, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2216248120
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Citation: In the aftermath of ‘The China Initiative’ a survey found a third of Chinese scientists feel unwelcome in the US (2023, July 4) retrieved on 4 July 2023 from https:// phys.org/news/2023-07-aftermath-china-survey-chinese-scientists.html
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