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US Tensions With China Are Fraying Long-Cultivated Academic Ties. Will The Chill Hurt US Interests?

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fu Xiangdong was a Chinese virology student who moved to the United States to study biochemistry in the 1980s. He held a distinguished post in California and was pursuing promising Parkinson’s disease research more than three decades later.

On the other hand, Fu is now conducting research at a Chinese institution. His American career was ruined as US-China ties deteriorated, casting doubt on his cooperation with a Chinese university. He eventually resigned.

Fu’s narrative parallels the growth and fall of intellectual engagement between the United States and China.

Beginning in 1978, such cooperation grew for decades, virtually immune to variations in the two countries’ relations. It is now in decline, with Washington considering Beijing a strategic adversary and mounting concerns about Chinese surveillance. The number of Chinese students in the United States is declining, and collaboration between the United States and China in research is dwindling. Academics are avoiding possible China projects out of worry that seemingly little mistakes could jeopardize their careers.

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US Tensions With China Are Fraying Long-Cultivated Academic Ties

This decline is affecting more than just students and researchers. Analysts say it will reduce American competitiveness and hamper global efforts to solve health challenges. Collaborations in the past have resulted in substantial improvements, such as in influenza surveillance and vaccine development.

“That’s been really harmful to U.S. science,” said Deborah Seligsohn, a former US ambassador in Beijing who is now a political scientist at Villanova University. “We are producing less science because of this falloff.”

Given the heightened US-China relations, some believe the promise of scientific achievements must take a back seat to security concerns. According to them, such cooperation benefits China by providing it with crucial economic, defence, and technological information. They also believe the Chinese government is monitoring and harassing dissidents in American institutions.

These concerns were central to the Justice Department’s China Initiative, a program launched in 2018 by the Trump administration to discover acts of economic espionage. While the effort did not result in the capture of spies, it did impact researchers in American schools.

Gang Chen, a mechanical engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was charged in 2021 under the program with concealing ties to the Chinese government. Prosecutors later dropped all accusations, but Chen’s research group was disbanded. He stated that his family had a difficult experience and is still recovering.

Chen stated that inquiries and unfair prosecutions like his “are pushing out talents.”

“That’s going to hurt U.S. scientific enterprise, hurt U.S. competitiveness,” he said.

The Biden administration stopped the China Initiative in 2022, but other initiatives are aimed at Chinese-connected researchers.

In Florida, a state rule aimed at reducing foreign influences has sparked fears that Chinese students may be essentially barred from labs at the state’s public colleges.

This month, a bipartisan group of Republican senators raised worry about Beijing’s influence on American campuses through student groups, urging the Justice Department to investigate whether such groups should be registered as foreign agents.

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US Tensions With China Are Fraying Long-Cultivated Academic Ties

According to Miles Yu, director of the Hudson Institute’s China Center, Beijing has used American higher education and research institutes to modernize its economy and military.

“For some time, out of cultural, self-interest reasons, many people have double loyalty, erroneously thinking it’s OK to serve the interests of both the U.S. and China,” he said.

The United States-China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, signed in 1979, was slated to expire this year. Congress extended the pact by six months in August, but its future remains to be determined.

According to Nicholas Burns, the United States ‘ ambassador to China, if a new agreement is reached, it should consider new scientific and technological breakthroughs.

According to Burns, just 700 American students were studying in China, compared to almost 300,000 Chinese students in the United States, down from a peak of around 372,000 in 2019-2020.

On American university campuses, practically all Confucius Institutes, a Beijing-backed Chinese language and culture program, had dissolved by October. According to the US Government Accountability Office, their number has decreased from around 100 in 2019 to fewer than five.

In 2018, the National Institute of Health launched an investigation into foreign links by requesting that hundreds of American schools investigate if their faculty members may have broken laws governing the use of government funds, typically in situations involving cooperation with Chinese institutions.

The NIH probe focused on Fu, who was then a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and his connections with Wuhan University. According to the local news outlet La Jolla Light, Fu argued that federal funds were never used for work there, but the university decided against him.

Charles Lieber, a former chair of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard institution, was found guilty of lying to the federal government about his links with a Chinese institution and a Chinese government talent-recruitment program in a China Initiative case in December 2021.

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US Tensions With China Are Fraying Long-Cultivated Academic Ties

According to Chen, collaborations that were once welcomed have suddenly become challenging. He claimed that disclosure standards had been unclear and that such collaborations had been praised in many situations.

“Very few people in the general public understand that most U.S. universities, including MIT, don’t take on any secret research projects on campus,” Chen said. “We aim to publish our research findings.”

University campuses have suffered as a result of the probes. “People are so fearful that, if you check the wrong box, you could be accused of lying to the government,” Chen said.

According to a peer-reviewed academic study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in June, the China Initiative has undoubtedly produced widespread fear and anxiety among scientists of Chinese heritage.

The study, which polled 1,304 scientists of Chinese heritage working at American colleges, found that many were considering leaving the country or ceasing to seek federal funds, according to the researchers.

An analysis of research papers in the PubMed database revealed that, as of 2021, U.S. scientists still co-wrote more papers with Chinese scientists than with scientists from any other country, but those with a history of collaborating with China saw a decline in research productivity after 2019, shortly after the NIH investigation began.

The study’s findings, which will appear in the PNAS journal before the end of the year, indicate that the impact of US-based academics collaborating with China has decreased by 10%.

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US Tensions With China Are Fraying Long-Cultivated Academic Ties

“It has a chilling effect on science,” said Ruixue Jia, the NIH investigation’s main researcher. “While researchers worked to complete existing collaborative projects, they were hesitant to start new ones, and the results could worsen.” Both countries have suffered.”

Fu’s name surfaced on the website of Westlake University, a private research university in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, three months after he resigned from the California school. Fu directs a lab at Westlake that studies RNA biology and regenerative medicine.

Guan Kunliang, a fellow scientist in San Diego who was being probed, joined Fu in August. Guan has been barred from applying for NIH grants for the next two years. Guan’s job was recovered, but his lab had downsized. He is now re-establishing a molecular cell biology lab at Westlake.

According to Li Chenjian, a former vice provost of Peking University, talent loss to China is a tricky issue, and the concern may be overstated because the United States remains the go-to spot for the world’s greatest minds and has abundant talent.

According to the National Science Foundation, from 2005 to 2015, more than 87% of Chinese students who got doctorates in the United States intended to stay in the country. The percentage dipped to 73.9 in 2021 but increased to 76.7 in 2022, exceeding the 74.3% average for all foreign students who received research doctorates in the United States.

Rao Yi, a distinguished neurobiologist who returned to China from the United States in 2007, stated that American actions about the China Initiative were “morally wrong.”

“We will see how long it will take for the U.S. government and its morally upright scientists to correct such mistakes and come around to see the bigger picture of human development, beyond petty-mindedness and shortsightedness,” he said. “Throughout history, it is always the morally corrupt governments which advocate the blocking of scientific communication and persecution of scientists.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Taiwan Scrambles Jets And Puts Missile, Naval And Land Units On Alert Over China’s Military Drills

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan scrambled jets and placed missile, navy, and ground forces on notice Thursday in response to Chinese military maneuvers near the self-governing island democracy, whose new president took office this week.

The Chinese military claimed its two-day operations around Taiwan were punishment for separatist forces seeking independence. Beijing claims the island is part of China’s national territory, and the People’s Liberation Army sends navy ships and warplanes into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island daily to wear down Taiwan’s defenses and intimidate its people, who strongly support their de facto independence

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China | AP News Image

Taiwan Scrambles Jets And Puts Missile, Naval And Land Units On Alert Over China’s Military Drills

China’s “irrational provocation has jeopardized regional peace and stability,” according to the island’s Defense Ministry. It stated that Taiwan will not seek confrontations but “will not shy away from one.”

“This pretext for conducting military exercises not only does not contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but also shows its hegemonic nature at heart,” said the ministry.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te urged Beijing to end its military intimidation and promised to “neither yield nor provoke” the mainland Communist Party leadership.

“Faced with external challenges and threats, we will continue to uphold the values of freedom and democracy,” Lai told sailors and top security officials Thursday while visiting a naval facility in Taoyuan, just south of Taipei.

While not directly referring to China’s actions, he stated that international society was concerned about Taiwan’s security. This is likely due to its critical role in supply chains for the most advanced computer chips and its democratic bulwark against Chinese attempts to assert control over the Asia-Pacific.

Lai has stated that he seeks engagement with Beijing while retaining Taiwan’s existing status and avoiding disputes that may involve the island’s principal ally, the United States, and other regional partners such as Japan and Australia

The main opposition, the Nationalist Party, widely regarded as pro-China, also criticized Beijing’s activities.

The Nationalists, sometimes called the KMT, “the opposite side of the (Taiwan Strait) to exercise restraint, cease unnecessary maneuvers, avoid a conflict in the Taiwan Strait and maintain the cherish the results of peace and development between the sides.

Thursday’s tensions arose amid protests outside Taiwan’s legislature over plans by the Nationalists and their allies to utilize their small majority to ram through legislation that might alter military expenditures and critical judicial and administrative appointments.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command stated on its official Weibo account that the land, navy, and air exercises around Taiwan are intended to test PLA units’ navy and air capabilities and joint strike abilities to hit targets and take control of the battlefield.

“This is also a powerful punishment for the separatist forces seeking ‘independence’ and a serious warning to external forces for interference and provocation,” stated the statement.

The PLA also released a map of the anticipated training region, which includes five distinct spots around Taiwan’s main island and neighboring islands, such as Matsu and Kinmen, which are closer to the Chinese mainland than Taiwan.

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China | AP news Image

Taiwan Scrambles Jets And Puts Missile, Naval And Land Units On Alert Over China’s Military Drills

In a statement, China’s coast guard also said that it had organized a fleet to conduct law enforcement drills around two islands near the Taiwanese-controlled island groupings of Kinmen and Matsu, which are just off the Chinese coast.

While China has labeled the exercises as retribution for Taiwan’s election results, the Democratic Progressive Party has now dominated the island’s administration for more than a decade, despite the pro-China Nationalist Party gaining a one-seat majority in parliament

Speaking in Australia, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Stephen Sklenka, the deputy commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, urged Asia-Pacific nations to criticize China’s military exercises.

“There’s no surprise whenever there’s an action that highlights Taiwan in the international sphere, the Chinese feel compelled to make some kind of form of statement,” Sklenka told the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra, referring to Monday’s presidential inauguration.

“Just because we expect that behavior doesn’t mean we shouldn’t denounce it, and we must do it openly. And it must come not only from us, but also, I believe, from other nations in the region. It’s one thing for the US to denounce China, but I feel it has a considerably greater impact when it comes from countries in this region,” Sklenka remarked.

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China | AP News Image

Taiwan Scrambles Jets And Puts Missile, Naval And Land Units On Alert Over China’s Military Drills

While visiting the United States, Japan’s top ambassador declared that Japan and Taiwan share values and principles such as freedom, democracy, basic rights, and the rule of law.

“(Taiwan) is an extremely important partner with whom we have close economic relations and people exchanges, as well as a precious friend,” Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters in Washington after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

She stated that the two ministers discussed Taiwan and the significance of keeping the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s most significant maritime routes, peaceful.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

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Harvard | Harvard.com Image

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – Harvard University planned to host its commencement ceremony on Thursday, following a weeks-long pro-Palestinian encampment that closed off Harvard Yard to save individuals with university links and heightened campus tensions.

Those tensions were heightened on Wednesday when school authorities revealed that 13 Harvard students who participated in the encampment would not be permitted to graduate alongside their classmates.

Those in the encampment demanded a cease-fire in Gaza and Harvard’s divestment from firms that support the war.

Also on Thursday, Northwestern and Rutgers University presidents are scheduled to speak before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on concessions they made to pro-Palestinian protesters to cease campus rallies. The Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, was also due to attend the most recent hearings looking into how universities have responded to the protests and charges of antisemitism.

Harvard

Harvard | AP News Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

The decision by the school’s top governing board comes after faculty members recommended on Monday that the 13 students be allowed to graduate despite their participation in the encampment.

However, Harvard’s governing board, the Harvard Corporation, stated that each 13 had been determined to have violated university standards during the camping protest.

“In coming to this determination, we note that the express provisions of the Harvard College Student Handbook state that students who are not in good standing are not eligible for degrees,” the company stated in a written statement.

The statement did not rule out the possibility of an appeals procedure, stating that the corporation knows “that the inability to graduate is consequential for students and their families” and supports the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ goal to accelerate the examination of appeal requests.

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Harvard | The Forward Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

“We care deeply about every member of our community — students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni — and we have chosen a path forward that accords with our responsibilities and reaffirms a process for our students to receive prompt and fair review,” said the statement.

Protesters packed up their things and departed a pro-Palestinian campsite at Drexel University in Philadelphia on Thursday after the school announced a decision to have police clear the area

Supporters of the students said that the decision not to allow them to earn degrees at commencement violated a May 14 agreement between interim President Alan Garber and the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine alliance, which would have allowed them to graduate.

Protesters opposing Israel’s war with Hamas willingly demolished their tents after university administrators agreed to hear their concerns over the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the types of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.

The group issued a statement late Wednesday, claiming that the decision jeopardizes the 13 students’ post-graduate careers.

“By rejecting a democratic faculty vote, the Corporation has proved itself to be a wholly illegitimate body, and Garber an illegitimate president, accountable to no one at the university,” claimed the organization.

Harvard

Harvard | Harvard Crimson Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

“Today’s actions have plunged the university even further into a crisis of legitimacy and governance, which will have major repercussions for Harvard in the coming months and years,” claimed the organization.

Supporters of the protestors planned a vigil outside Harvard Yard on Thursday to support the 13 and urge for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Protesters packed up their things and departed a pro-Palestinian campsite at Drexel University in Philadelphia on Thursday after the school announced a decision to have police clear the area. A wave of pro-Palestinian tent encampments on college campuses has resulted in over 3,000 arrests nationally.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

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Biden | NBC Image

Washington — President Joe Biden is greeting Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House for a three-day state visit as the East African country prepares to send troops to Haiti as part of a United Nations-led effort to calm a deteriorating security situation in the Caribbean.

Some 1,000 Kenyan police personnel will soon arrive in Haiti as part of a multilateral security support operation aimed at reducing gang violence. Other countries anticipated to assist the Kenyan military include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Bangladesh.

For years, the United States has worked with Kenya on counterterrorism initiatives in Africa, notably the fight against the extremist group al-Shabab. Kenya has joined the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and an international maritime task force established by the Biden administration in December in response to Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

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Biden | AP News Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

A top Biden administration official praised Ruto’s decision to send police personnel to Haiti, calling it an “unprecedented undertaking” and demonstrating Kenya’s international leadership.

Kenya is the first African nation to have a state visit from the United States since 2008.

“This is a deep and broad partnership,” White House principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said last week. He said it begins with combatting terrorism in Kenya’s region of Africa and progresses to “becoming a net security provider in our own hemisphere” with the upcoming deployment to Haiti.

The state visit begins with the two leaders meeting with CEOs at the White House in the afternoon. The goal is to increase relations between the American and Kenyan IT industries. The White House predicts that Teneo, Alphabet, and Semiconductor Technologies Limited executives will attend.

On Thursday, Biden and Ruto will hold formal talks and a joint press conference before attending a state dinner. Ruto is also scheduled to attend a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event with Vice President Kamala Harris this Friday.

Ruto began his journey to the United States in Atlanta, where he visited The King Center, met NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal, and dropped by Tyler Perry Studios.

The United States and Kenya are commemorating their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. According to White House officials, the leaders’ agenda will include trade and investment, technological innovation, climate and sustainable energy, as well as health and security.

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell stated that the two countries would make “substantial commitments” to strengthen Kenya’s technical industry. Kenya hosts Google and Microsoft headquarters and established itself as East Africa’s technology hub, the Silicon Savannah.

In December 2022, Biden gathered dozens of African leaders in Washington to make the case that the United States was “all in” on Africa’s future, promising billions of dollars in government and private investment in health, infrastructure, business, and technology. The Democrat also promised to visit Sub-Saharan Africa in 2023.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

But other issues got in the way last year, notably the Israel-Hamas conflict and Biden’s lengthy battle with Republicans to renew financing for Ukraine’s war with Russia. Biden’s projected journey to Africa never occurred.

All the while, Russia has attempted to strengthen its economic and military influence in Africa. The junta in the West African nation recently ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Niger, which should be complete by mid-September. Meanwhile, Russia sent military trainers to Niger.

In addition, the United States needs to catch up to rival China in terms of investment in Africa, which has emerged as a vital battleground in the rivalry between great powers.

Biden and his advisers foresee fierce economic competition with Beijing in Africa but have attempted to argue that Washington is a far more stable partner in the long run

To that purpose, Biden took steps early in his presidency to prioritize Africa over his predecessors, including hosting over 50 leaders for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Conference in December 2022. However, analysts think the administration’s involvement has waned since the summit.

Cameron Hudson, a senior scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Program, highlighted that Biden has only hosted one African leader, Angola President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, for meetings at the White House since the conference.

“This visit today feels a bit like a fig leaf, not just for the Kenyans but for Africa in general, and a kind of a placeholder for the administration to say: All of those things that we said early on in the administration, they all remain true,” Hudson stated.

According to Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at the United States International University in Africa, Ruto hopes to use the visit to boost his international reputation. He feels that deploying Kenyan police to Haiti will help him achieve that aim.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

“Ruto wishes to be known as the African leader, particularly in the West. “And this kind of recognition fuels that desire,” Munene explained.

Ruto has stated that Kenya’s mission to Haiti aims to “formulate actionable strategies that will lead to long-term solutions” in the poorest Western Hemisphere country. For decades, Haiti has suffered from poverty, political instability, and natural calamities. The United States has agreed to offer direct financial assistance to the United Nations-backed mission and training, logistics, and material support.

However, Ruto’s decision to involve Kenyan police in a crisis hundreds of miles abroad has sparked criticism in Nairobi, including legal challenges to prevent police troops from being deployed.

International intervention in Haiti has a complex history. A sexual abuse scandal and the arrival of cholera, which claimed over 10,000 lives, hindered a U.N.-approved stabilization operation in Haiti that started in June 2004. The mission concluded in October 2017.

SOURCE – (AP)

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