Washington proposes curb on Chinese researchers

Global Business

Ahead of trade talks in China, Washington, D.C. has been putting pressure on Beijing by trying to limit Chinese investment in the U.S. and proposing to curb visas for Chinese researchers.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Chinese-born scientist Sherry Chen got her job back this week in the U.S., after the government falsely accused her of espionage. But Asian-American advocates said her case may not be the last.

This week, the Pentagon banned the retail sale of smartphones made in China on U.S. military bases around the world.

“Unfortunately, when there are trade tensions or any type of economic competition between countries, and this isn’t specific to Asia or China, but generally — that causes similar tensions with respect to race and ethnicity,” John Yang, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice said.

Stephen Heifetz is an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.  He helps companies navigate U.S. investment regulations around national security concerns. He explained how difficult it is to be a Chinese company that wants to buy or invest in the US.

“It is tough. The committee that conducts national security reviews of inbound investments in the U.S. has been particularly tough on Chinese investors. It probably scuttled 20 deals in the last year, which is a significant number,” Heifetz said.

And U.S. companies which want to do business with China are pushing back. Ten industry representatives recently met with Treasury officials, arguing proposals to expand national security reviews are too broad.

“Industry has said, we need to be more precise. The legislation needs to be more precise. It can’t be so expansive, potentially reviewing any sharing of intellectual property or any time there is a fund that makes investments that might have a foreign limited partner, ” Heifetz said.

John Yang and other Asian-Americans are trying to make sure suspicions about Chinese policy and don’t become false accusations against Chinese people.

Yang and other Asian-American advocates recently demanded a meeting with new FBI chief Christopher Wray after Wray told lawmakers in February that Chinese academics and students are – and should be – under surveillance.

Yang said he’s observed incidents of discrimination against Chinese-Americans.

“National security issues are legitimate. We get that. But how do you respond to it?  If you characterize an entire race as being somehow suspicious or that all Chinese American scientists should be surveilled or should be treated with suspicion, that goes too far. That is not effective as a national security policy, ” Yang said.