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Research Theft Bill to Be Proposed

Lawmakers in the US plan to introduce a bill aimed at preventing the theft of US-funded research by China and others, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The bill, which is being proposed by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), does not cite China by name, the Journal notes, and instead references "malign state actors." If enacted, the legislation would make it illegal to fail to disclose receiving foreign funding on a federal grant application; would give the State, Justice and Education Departments increased authority to oversee universities and researchers receiving foreign funds; and expand the ability of the State Department to deny visas to foreign graduate students and researchers, it adds. The Journal notes that the White House last week prohibited visas for Chinese graduate students and researchers if they have worked with certain Chinese entities.

"A lot of people are pointing fingers at China and saying China should change," Portman tells the Journal. "I'm not sure that will happen but I know we can do a number of things here to clean up our own house."

This proposal comes at a time of increased concern regarding foreign influence on US research. The US National Institutes of Health sent letters asking institutions about researchers' potential undisclosed ties to foreign governments, which has led to some researchers resigning or being fired and to a few arrests. But as many of those targeted have been Asian or Asian American, concerns of racism have arisen.