Department of Justice considers amnesty program for academics . . .
The United States Department of Justice circulated a draft proposal last Friday for an amnesty program for U.S. academics, in which academics could report any past foreign funding without punishment. The proposal comes after the former Trump administration implemented various measures to deter U.S.-China academic collaboration – going as far as issuing an Executive Order empowering the U.S. to take away visas from any student or researcher with direct ties to the Chinese military, citing potential “illicit espionage” as justification. The proposed amnesty program signals that while the U.S. government is still concerned with understanding foreign funding sources, it is also considering how to ensure that international academic collaboration is not compromised.
Program being considered as MIT professor arrested . . .
The proposed program comes just one week after Dr. Gang Chen, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was arrested for allegedly failing to disclose his affiliations with China when he applied for grants from U.S. federal government sources. Dr. Chen’s arrest is the latest among a dozen U.S. academics and research scientists who have been charged in the past two years for potential connections to China. MIT faculty members have signed an open letter supporting Chen, stating that they are concerned about the “implications for open academia and intellectual freedom” and that they are “troubled that the complaint against Gang vilifies what would be considered normal academic and research activities.”
Biden administration must find a balance . . .
Steven Chu, a former Energy Secretary in the Obama administration, has stated that while he is concerned “about academic spying from potential Chinese military-affiliated students,” he also “worries that the government’s actions are pushing talented graduate students and faculty to leave the U.S.” The new Biden administration’s stance on China-U.S. academic collaboration is yet to be seen. However, President Biden has signalled that he will continue to maintain policies that target intellectual property theft by China. Several analysts, including at Asia Watch, hope policies can be adopted that promote a balance between the disclosure of foreign funding with openness to international collaboration. Perhaps the new amnesty program is a step toward such a balance.
- Boston Globe: MIT President and faculty defend professor arrested for China ties
- The New York Times: A scientist is arrested, and academics push back
- Wall Street Journal: Justice Department weighs amnesty for academics to disclose foreign funding