Republican Senators Propose Bill to Keep Chinese Military Scientists from Infiltrating U.S., Stealing Intellectual Property

The flag of China flies behind a security camera over the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Thursday, July 23, 2020. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese researcher who the FBI says lied about her military background. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Several Republican senators are intent on keeping Chinese Communist Party-backed scientists from having access to research conducted in the United States.

Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mike Braun (R-IN) reintroduced the “People’s Liberation Army Visa Security Act” on Wednesday to combat Chinese military infiltration into scientific research and theft of intellectual property.

The bill would prohibit the issuance of F or J visas to researchers affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and would revoke any existing F or J visas of individuals who are employed, funded, or otherwise sponsored by them. F visas are a common form of international student visas, and J visas are for exchange visitors who come to the U.S. to teach, study, or receive training. Cotton said:

Allowing members of the People’s Liberation Army unfettered access to research visas is an open invitation to steal American research, ingenuity, and intellectual property. The United States shouldn’t be arming our greatest adversary—our bill will block Chinese military affiliated people from receiving student and research visas to the United States.

Cotton first introduced the bill on May 14, 2019, but it did not receive a vote. Since then, several CCP-backed operatives have been caught working in U.S. institutions. The National Institute of Health also admitted in April that it was investigating more than 500 federally funded scientists for possible ties to China and other foreign powers, Breitbart News previously reported:

According to NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research Dr. Michael S. Lauer, more than 90 percent of the scientists investigated last year had received some form of support from China. Chinese espionage operations have targeted virtually every corner of American biological and medical research.

If the bill is passed, the President must mandate the creation of an unclassified and publicly available database no later than 180 days after its enactment. The database would maintain a record “identifying the research, engineering, and scientific institutions that the President determines are affiliated with, or funded by, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army,” the legislation reads.

The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, a consular officer, or a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer would ask nationals from the People’s Republic of China who are seeking an F or J visa if they have ever been, “employed, funded, or otherwise sponsored by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army or any of the affiliated institutions,” according to the bill. Tuberville said:

American innovation and ingenuity are our nation’s greatest assets and the envy of adversaries around the globe including China. Without a hardline approach to safeguard our research, Chinese military institutions will continue to steal our intellectual property for their own benefit. Restricting Chinese military institution’s access to American visas ensures our innovation and research cannot be used against us.

The bill recommends that Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom take similar measures to protect themselves from China. 

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