Scholars or Spies: Foreign Plots Targeting America’s Research and Development?

Two House Science subcommittees held a hearing in April titled Scholars or Spies: Foreign Plots Targeting America’s Research and Development. The purpose of the hearing was to explore espionage at US research universities.

The four witnesses were:

  • Hon. Michael Wessel, commissioner, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
  • Hon. Michelle Van Cleave, former national counterintelligence executive, Office of National Counterintelligence Executive
  • Mr. Daniel Golden, author, “Spy Schools”
  • Mr. Crane Hassold, director of threat intelligence, PhishLabs

It can be taken by some as the down side of attracting foreign students, particularly from China, to study in the US. In his opening statement, the Oversight Sub Committee Chairman Ralph Abraham (R) of Louisiana said, in part:

The Chinese government has been very clear about its long-range plans for achieving global domination in critical areas of science and technology. China, however, has been less forthright about its methods, which include theft of confidential information and technological secrets from U.S. companies, cyber-attacks and other forms of spying to undermine our national security and putting sleeper agents at our research universities to steal our scientific breakthroughs. *** But many in academia have been unwilling to accept reality and unwilling to take any defensive measures to protect their researchers’ work, their universities’ scientific assets and taxpayers’ investments.

The complete video and written testimony can be found at Subcommittee on Oversight and Subcommittee on Research and Technology Hearing: Scholars or Spies: Foreign Plots Targeting America’s Research and Development.

On May 30th the Trump administration sent strong indications they will restrict the ability of Chinese grad students to get jobs at American companies after they are out of school. Reports say graduate students may be issued visas good for just a year at a time, rather than the multi-year type that are common now. This no doubt will have an adverse effect in the recruitment by American universities of Chinese students.


cropped-edu-alliance-logo-square1.jpgEdu Alliance is a higher education consultancy firm with offices in the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The founders and its advisory members have assisted higher education institutions on a variety of projects, and many have held senior positions in higher education in the United States and internationally.

Our specific mission is to assist universities, colleges and educational institutions to develop capacity and enhance their effectiveness.

Thank you to Advisory Council member Ken Salomon for making Edu Alliance aware of the hearing.

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