Discussion: U.S-China Collaborations Severed

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last week’s spending bill ends scientific exchanges

In all of hullabaloo raging in recent weeks about the federal government’s spending bill and a possible government shutdown, a little clause with big implications almost went unnoticed. Two sentences, inserted into the legislation by Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), prohibit any joint scientific activity between the two nations that involves NASA or is coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The language in the spending bill says that no government funds can be used by NASA or OSTP “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company.” It also prevents any NASA facility from hosting “official Chinese visitors.”

“We don’t want to give them the opportunity to take advantage of our technology, and we have nothing to gain from dealing with them,” Wolf said. “And frankly, it boils down to a moral issue. … Would you have a bilateral program with Stalin?”

China and the United States have been collaborating on scientific projects for over 32 years, ever since the two countries signed the U.S.-China bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement in 1979. The most recent of these projects is the Young Scientist Forum, a new initiative announced earlier this month, would seek to connect the brightest young scientists in the two countries.

The forum would explore ways to promote interaction between young U.S. and Chinese researchers using exchange programs and innovative technological platforms to facilitate discussions on topics of common interest regarding building careers and partnerships in science and the conduct of science, including research integrity, scientific responsibility and peer-review processes.

Besides this forum, China and the United States have cooperated on numerous projects over the year, in a variety of fields including agricultural biotechnology, natural resource management, food safety, physics and chemistry research, civil industrial technology, geology, health, and disaster relief.

Here at iAMscientist we’ve often advocated on the importance of collaboration and international cooperation. Members and scientists that are affected by this small bit of legislation, how have you been affected by this change? Those who aren’t affected, what do you think about this?


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