US Committed to Protect Academic Research From China

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 09, 2021

US students

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) has raised concerns about the security of university research, suggesting the American universities undertake steps in preventing sensitive technology stealing by the Chinese military.

According to Erudera.com, the Commission led by the former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has unanimously voted to approve its final report to Congress, while the new section added to the report includes recommendations in competition for artificial intelligence and semiconductor supply chain.

“We did a great deal of research in looking at where China was, and they have a massive investment in this area with many, many, many smart people working on it,” Schmidt said.

These suggestions come as the United States proceeds with the prosecution of at least five Chinese researchers who were arrested last year in several cities across the US, accused of visa fraud, for hiding their ties with the Chinese military. 

One of the persons arrested back then was Chen Song, a former Stanford University visiting scholar in neurology who was accused of including obstruction of justice, destruction of records, and making untrue statements to a government agency.

Lately, Song was pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in a US District Court in California.

“Dr. Song is a physician. She was here to do medical research that would have benefited stroke victims in the United States had she been allowed to complete her work,” Ed Swanson, who is her lawyer, wrote in an email.

Other cases include:

  • Juan Tang, a visiting researcher at University of California Davis School of Medicine. 
  • Xin Wang, a visiting researcher at the University of California San Francisco.
  • Kaikai Zhao, a Ph.D. student studying artificial intelligence and machine learning at Indiana University in Bloomington.
  • Lei Guan, researcher at the University of California Los Angeles’ mathematics department.

Following the events, universities declared that they have been collaborating with authorities regarding the investigation.

Cases are part of the so-called “China initiative” of the US Department of Justice, an initiative launched in 2018 to counter the national security threats from China. 

On the other hand, China did not admit the claims that it was trying to steal the US research.

In addition to requiring revelation on research funding, collaboration at universities, the suggestions of NSCAI have also proposed the creation of a database of individuals and entities in order to control the risks.

According to Gilman Louie, an NSCAI commissioner, such a database could help prevent unilateral bans based on affiliations as well as would allow the United States to judge individual cases.

“That somebody simply looks at you and determines because you’re ethnically Chinese that you can no longer be trusted on programs in the US, that’s a big issue with me,”  Louie said.

Whereas, the vice president for science policy and global affairs at the Association of American Universities, Tobin Smith, stressed that universities have welcomed “the blueprint” as the latter have been struggling while evaluating the risks.

Last year, the United States also annulled the visas of over 1,000 Chinese students and researchers, claiming that they are dangerous for national security. 

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