søndag 4. juli 2021

Restricting academics makes it harder for China to tell its own story

One of the more reckless gestures of the Donald Trump administration was its decision to restrict visas for Chinese academic visitors to the United States. We’re not talking here about allowing Chinese scholars access to US physics and computing labs that some fear might mean that the latest information about AI or rocket technology might find its way to Beijing by underhand means.

Senior specialists on international relations, trade policy and Chinese politics had their multiple-entry visas revoked. Students in these areas were told they might not be able to take up their places to study. At a time when US understanding of China was crucial, cutting off ready access to first-hand information about the place was a backwards step. Social science specialists were unlikely candidates to steal national security sensitive data. They might well have been fervent Chinese nationalists, but since that is a pretty mainstream position in China, it would have been sensible to have a few exponents of it around in the US to take part in debate (and indeed to be vigorously rebutted).