lørdag 24. april 2021

Crackdown on Spying Damages US Science, Says Chinese-Born Physicist

The US government has recently taken a hard line toward economic espionage, arresting several researchers for allegedly sharing technology secrets or for hiding affiliations with the Chinese government. But this crackdown could have unwanted repercussions. “Innocent Chinese-American scientists are being unfairly targeted,” according to physicist Xiaoxing Xi, one of two 2020 winners of the APS Andrei Sakharov Prize. Xi, of Temple University, Philadelphia, spoke at the 2021 APS March Meeting. He said that this targeting by national security agencies could have disastrous consequences for US research, and he urged scientists to defend their Chinese colleagues from injustice.

Xi has personal experience with this matter. In May 2015, he was arrested by the FBI on charges of sending sensitive American technology to China. But the indictment “was totally false,” Xi told his APS audience. His FBI interrogators “knew nothing about how science is done, and they saw routine academic activities as criminal.” Four months later, the charges were dropped, and Xi was released, after independent experts convinced federal prosecutors that the schematics Xi had shared with his Chinese colleagues did not describe any sensitive technology [1]. Since then, Xi has worked to increase the visibility of cases like his, which led the Sakharov Prize committee to honor him last year.