With its Thousand Talents program, China has aimed to bring Chinese scientists working abroad back home. But, Nature Index reports that increasing suspicions in the US of technological and intellectual property theft has led China to be more circumspect about the program.
Lists of scientists and others affiliated with the program have been removed from Chinese government and institution websites out of concern that those individuals would then become the targets of US Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiries, it says. These concerns have risen with an ongoing trade war between the US and China as well as increased worry that foreign entities aim to influence the US research enterprise or pass along sensitive information to foreign governments, particularly China, it adds. Nature Index notes that one scientist who was recruited to a position through Thousand Talents program, but who declined it, was later interviewed by the FBI.
Temple University's Xi Xiaoxing, arrested for sharing sensitive information in 2015 but had the charges dropped, tells Nature Index that this could affect academic freedom as well as the global view of US science. "Every scientist should be concerned — not just scientists of Chinese origin," Xi says.