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US lawmakers bring bill to ban Chinese military scientists from US labs

The bill seeks to prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States.

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US Capitol
File photo of the US Capitol. Photo: Reuters

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced identical resolutions in both the and the that would require the to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People's (PLA).

The bill seeks to prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by these institutions from receiving student or research visas to the

Senators Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, and have introduced the legislation in the Congressmen and have introduced the bill in the House.

The lawmakers alleged that scientists continue to research advanced in the US and other western countries.

According to some estimates, over the past decade, the has sent over 2,500 military engineers and scientists to study abroad. At times, these scientists have not disclosed their connection to the Chinese military, they alleged.

"In recent years, the has sponsored thousands of scientists and engineers to conduct sensitive research abroad, including in the United States," Congressman Gallagher said.

"The openly admits that it leverages these efforts to support the development of new military technologies and we cannot ignore the threat this poses to our national security," he added.

This is a common-sense bill that will help ensure China's military arm is not collaborating with US universities and researchers on sensitive information, said Congressman Hartzler.

Many of these individuals often mask their PLA and ties, allowing them to work at top universities without the schools' knowledge of their military affiliation.

"This legislation takes an important step to protect our universities from China's efforts to exploit our free and open society," Hartzler said.

The PLA is being armed with help from American colleges and tech companies. Keeping PLA scientists out of US research laboratories is a basic act of self-defence. It is stunning that this practice is not already prohibited, said Senator Cotton.

"Student and research visas ought to be reserved for those foreign nationals who want to contribute to our universities and research institutions, not for our foreign adversaries and spies that wish to do us harm. has taken advantage of us for too long," said Grassley.

must be vigilant in protecting the research, training, expertise and innovation that the has been stealing and exploiting for military and industrial purposes, Senator Cruz said.

"We cannot allow institutions to obtain visas that give them a technological advantage," said Blackburn.

"Permitting PLA members to access and in our universities and labs is damaging to our national security. We can no longer provide them access to the same research opportunities afforded to Americans," he added.

For too long, China's communist government has been exploiting the US student visa system to spy on American universities and steal its technology. This bill will keep the Chinese military away from critical research on American college campuses and curb China's economic espionage activities in the US, said Hawley.

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 07:35 IST