Congress Takes Aim at China’s Recruitment of Talent in U.S.

Congress is aiming to hobble China’s ability to recruit scientists and academics in the U.S. as part of broader moves in Washington to confront the Asian nation’s growing clout.

A recently passed House bill to bolster American research and development would bar scientists and academics from participating in U.S.-funded research projects if they are also receiving support from Beijing.

“For years, Congress, federal research agencies, the national security agencies and universities have been working to root out malign foreign talent recruitment,” Iowa Republican Representative Randy Feenstra, who introduced the measure, said during a committee hearing on the legislation. “The time has come to simply prohibit them from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian avoided a question on the bill during a regular press briefing Monday in Beijing, saying he was unaware of the matter.

House passage of the restriction is yet another sign of the strained relationship between the world’s two biggest economies, even at the level of academic inquiry that has attracted hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and scholars to the U.S. It comes as the U.S. government is taking a harder line on China.

The U.S., U.K. and their allies on Monday formally attributed the Microsoft Exchange hack to actors affiliated with the Chinese government and accused the Chinese government of a broad array of “malicious cyber activities.”

The U.S. also charged four Chinese nationals affiliated with the Ministry of State Security with a campaign to hack into computer systems of dozens of companies, universities and government entities in the U.S. and abroad between 2011 and 2018.