Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI), introduced legislation that would require the U.S. government to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The bill would prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by these Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. Click HERE for bill text.
"This is a common-sense bill that will help ensure China’s military arm is not collaborating with U.S. universities and researchers on sensitive information. Many of these individuals often mask their PLA and Chinese Communist Party ties allowing them to work at top universities without the schools’ knowledge of their military affiliation. This legislation takes an important step to protect our universities from China’s efforts to exploit our free and open society,” said Rep. Hartzler.
On November 28, 2018, Rep. Hartzler sent a letter to the Department of State requesting more information on the visa vetting process for individuals seeking to conduct research in the United States. A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
“In recent years, the PLA has sponsored thousands of scientists and engineers to conduct sensitive research abroad, including in the United States," said Rep. Gallagher. "The PLA openly admits that it leverages these efforts to support the development of new military technologies, and we can't ignore the threat this poses to our national security. I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside Senator Cotton and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that American innovation benefits the American military--and not our adversaries.”
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is being armed with help from American colleges and tech companies. Keeping PLA scientists out of our research laboratories is a basic act of self-defense. It’s stunning that this practice isn’t already prohibited,” said Sen. Cotton.
“Student and research visas ought to be reserved for those foreign nationals who want to contribute to our universities and research institutions, not for our foreign adversaries and spies that wish to do us harm. China has taken advantage of us for too long,” said Sen. Grassley.
“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the PLA Visa Security Act,” said Sen. Cruz. “America must be vigilant in protecting the research, training, expertise, and innovation that the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing and exploiting for military and industrial purposes. I am hopeful my colleagues will move swiftly to pass this bill to safeguard America’s national security.”
“We cannot allow Chinese military institutions to obtain visas that give them a technological advantage,” said Sen. Blackburn. “Permitting PLA members to access and research dual-use technologies in our universities and labs is damaging to our national security. We can no longer provide them access to the same research opportunities afforded to Americans.”
“For too long, China’s communist government has been exploiting our student visa system to spy on our universities and steal our technology. This bill will keep the Chinese military away from critical research on our college campuses and curb China’s economic espionage activities in the United States,” said Sen. Hawley.
Chinese military scientists continue to research advanced dual-use technology in the United States and other western countries. According to some estimates, over the past decade, the People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 2,500 military engineers and scientists to study abroad. At times, these scientists have not disclosed their connection to the Chinese military.
Kate O’Keeffe & Melissa Korn, “China’s Military Sends More Scholars Abroad, at Times Without Schools’ Knowledge,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2018
Madhumita Murgia & Yuan Yang, “Microsoft worked with Chinese military university on artificial intelligence,” Financial Times, April 10, 2019
Alex Joske, “The Chinese military’s exploitation of Western tech firms,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 12, 2019
Alex Joske, “Picking Flowers, Making Honey: The Chinese Military’s Collaboration With Foreign Universities,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, October 30, 2018
Assistant Secretary of State Chistopher Ford, “Why China Technology-Transfer Threats Matter,” State Department, October 24, 2018