As the US begins, however tentatively, to start severing scientific ties with the People’s Republic of China, some American scientists are manufacturing an alarm and sounding off about it.
China has built itself into a powerful engine of scientific discovery in recent decades, partly with American help, and many in Washington fear that China could gain a security and military advantage unless the US takes decisive steps to cut off cooperation in scientific research.
Many scientists warn, however, that Washington would be severing ties as China is making its greatest contributions to scientific advancements, and cutting it off risks slowing American progress in critical areas such as biotechnology, clean energy, and telecommunications.
Never mind that those scientific achievements have been done with an American help that includes a very large fraction via intellectual property theft, IP gained through economic extortion (give it over, or you can’t do business in the PRC), and outright espionage.
Never mind, either, that other nation’s scientists—those of Canada, Israel, Germany, Great Britain, France, Ukraine(!), and on and on—are every bit as good as the PRC’s, if not better, from the greater freedom of those nations’ economic, political, and research environments. A disruption while the collaborations transition would only be transient.
There’s this aspect of the US-PRC science relationship, too:
The US depends more heavily on China than China does on the US in some strategic areas, according to an analysis by Clarivate [a specialist in science analytics] of studies in respected journals shared exclusively with The Wall Street Journal. Between 2017 and 2021, US-China collaborations accounted for 27% of US-based scientists’ high-quality research in nanoscience, for example, but only 13% of China-based scientists’. The gap in telecommunications was even wider, with collaborations accounting for 10% of China’s output but more than 33% of the US’s.
The science complainers do not see this threat? I’m not sanguine about degree of their…naivete. Regardless, it’s time to end that dependence.
Some of the plaints are just petty, though.
[Tian] Xia, the professor of medicine at UCLA, said he has stopped his research on birth defects because he doesn’t know how to work with embryonic stem cells. That was the expertise of his Chinese collaborators.
A grown man sulking like a toddler. It’s a pity. It’s not that difficult to find experts in embryonic stem cells; that general technology has been around for decades, and there are experts with birth defect-related skills outside of the PRC. Xia just seems upset because he doesn’t get to work with his buds in the PRC as easily as he wants.
Our scientists need to do their own work or collaborate with other scientists in the US and in our friends’ and allies’ nations, and stop sharing our secrets with our enemies.
It’s almost as if these complaining scientists consider their personal careers and researches more important than the security of the nation that encourages and fosters their researches and whose economic, political, and research environment facilitates the flourishing of their research programs, and of their careers.