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US research restrictions spark controversy
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-03 06:37

The news that the US Government proposes to prevent Chinese and other nations' citizens participating in advanced scientific projects in the United States has prompted an outcry among overseas Chinese students and scholars in the United States, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

The proposal is, for the so-called sake of US national security, aimed at the prevention of the theft of technical secrets by foreign spies, said Xinhua, quoting relevant reports.

"Such a restriction will do no good to exchanges between China and the United States in scientific, cultural and educational fields," said Zhu Hongwen, chairman of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars of Greater New York Area.

It only serves as a kind of discrimination towards Chinese students and scholars, forcing lots of talented researchers to seek opportunities in European countries instead of the United States, said Zhu.

"Most of the Chinese students studying in the United States conduct crucial research," said Tian Li, chairman of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars in Columbia University.

The US authorities have strengthened controls on Chinese students researching "sensitive subjects" since September 11 terror attacks in 2001, by refusing visas to Chinese people who apply to study in these areas, said Tian.

"Under such circumstances, the US Government plans to resort to additional restrictions that would only breed further resentment among Chinese students, and limit the introduction of overseas talent," said Tian.

Six years ago, the US accused Los Alamos National Lab scientist Wen Ho Lee of stealing nuclear secrets for China, the report said. Lee eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of mishandling computer files.

Lee's case became a rallying point for many in the Chinese-American community who felt targeted because of their ethnic heritage.

US businesses and universities are currently required to get a government export licence if they allow citizens from controlled countries most notably China to engage in research involving technologies with potential military uses, the report said.

But a licence is not needed for Chinese nationals who have become citizens or permanent residents in a third country such as Canada or the United Kingdom, it said.

Reports said the proposal would suggest requiring licences for anyone born in China or other controlled countries such as Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, even if they had taken out citizenship in another country.

(China Daily 12/03/2005 page2)

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