News November 10, 2020

Caught in the Crossfire: The Future Of U.S.-China Science Collaboration and Its Impact on University Education

Concept of U,S.-China technology competition: brain-shaped boxing gloves covered in U.S. and China flags facing against each other on a background of a motherboard
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On October 28th, the APARC China Program hosted a panel of experts for the panel "Caught in the Crossfire: Strategic Competition, U.S.-China Science Collaboration, and U.S. Universities." Reports of Chinese espionage, IP theft and military-civil fusion strategy have all fueled concerns regarding U.S. universities’ open research ecosystem, especially in STEM. Many of the concerns focus not only on research integrity but also on potential adverse consequences to U.S. military and economic security. The October 28th panel discussed open access to U.S. universities, security risks involved, as well as the potential adverse consequences of limiting international access in science and technology (S&T) research.  

The discussion began with Professor Susan Shirk, Chair of the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego, who gave the audience an overview of current China science and technology policy and its relationship with US-China competition and universities. Shirk was followed by Arthur Bienenstock, co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Committee on International Scientific Partnerships and Professor of Photon Science, Emeritus at Stanford. Bienenstock provided important perspective from the STEM side of this debate, arguing that collaboration with China--and other foreign countries--is vital and should be encouraged. Elsa B. Kania, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security's Technology and National Security Program, gave a different perspective, explaining China's "civil-military fusion" and why many in the United States consider it a threat. Finally, Tim Stearns, the Frank Lee and Carol Hall Professor in the Department of Biology, brought things back home to Stanford. As the Senior Associate Vice Provost of Research, Stearns was able to give a unique insight into university administration and how Stanford is approaching these challenges. The panel concluded with a discussion between the panelists of audience questions. Watch:

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