Dispute intensifies over a ban on some types of scientific cooperation with China.
Eugenie Samuel Reich, 18 October 2011 | Nature | doi:10.1038/478294a
When US presidential science adviser John Holdren hosted a dinner and meetings between US and Chinese science officials in May, he must have known it would lead to a high-level stand-off. That came to pass on 11 October, when the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an arm of Congress, concluded in a report that those activities violated legislation banning scientific cooperation with China by NASA and by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which Holdren directs.
Frank Wolf (Republican, Virginia), the congressman who chairs the subcommittee that funds science agencies including the OSTP and NASA, inserted the ban into a spending bill that was passed last spring. Now, backed by the GAO report, he has asked the US Department of Justice to rein in Holdren’s China-related activities; if the department refuses to do so, the matter could end up in the courts. …
Relations between the United States and China have their roots in a historic 1972 visit to Beijing by US president Richard Nixon. That led to a 1979 agreement between the two governments for cooperation on scientific activities. Suttmeier estimates that US agencies now have more than 30 agreements on scientific cooperation with their equivalents in the Chinese government. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) opened an office in Beijing in 2006, and the US Department of Energy founded a US$150-million Clean Energy Research Center with China in 2009. Chinese researchers are now more likely to collaborate and co-author papers with scientists from the United States than with those from any other country.
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