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News analysis: Who has been hurt by America's "talent decoupling"

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Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, November 24 News analysis: Who has been hurt by the "talent decoupling" in the United States?

Xinhua News Agency reporter

In recent years, some people in the United States have set off a countercurrent of smearing and obstructing Sino-US technological and cultural exchanges. A small number of politicians hold ideological bias and Cold War mentality, and advocate "talent decoupling". However, will this "talent decoupling" suppress China's competitiveness as it wishes? Who will it hurt in the end?

China: Increasing talent attraction

At the "2022 Shenzhen Global Innovative Talents Forum" held not long ago, Yan Ning, a foreign academician of the National Academy of Sciences and a professor at Princeton University, said that he had submitted his resignation to Princeton University and would return to China full-time to assist in the establishment of the Shenzhen Academy of Medical Sciences.

In addition to Yan Ning, many overseas scientific and technological talents with international influence have returned to China in recent years. In April this year, the famous mathematician Yau Shing-Tung retired from Harvard University to teach full-time at Tsinghua University. According to data released by the Asian American Scholars Forum in September this year, more than 1,400 Chinese-American scientists will give up their positions in American academic institutions or companies and return to China in 2021, an increase of about 22% over the previous year.

According to the "2022 Global Talent Competitiveness Index" report jointly released by INSEAD International Business School, the Portulance Institute of the United States, and the Singapore Human Capital Leadership Institute in November, China's ranking continued to rise to 36th, a record high in previous years.

Wang Huiyao, chairman of the global think tank, previously published a signed article saying that China's "returnees" are growing steadily and will play a greater role in innovation and entrepreneurship, technological breakthroughs, and non-governmental diplomacy.

According to data from the Ministry of Education of China, since 2012, more than 80% of all kinds of Chinese students studying abroad choose to return to China after completing their studies.

United States: Suppression of Chinese Scholars Brings "Chilling Effect"

China is increasingly attractive to overseas Chinese scholars, while the United States is "losing people's hearts" because of its unscrupulous suppression of Chinese scholars.

In the report of the Asian American Scholars Forum, Xie Yu, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a professor at Princeton University, and collaborators from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a survey of 1,304 Chinese scientists currently employed by American universities. In all five psychological indicators, they showed strong anxiety and fear.

The study found that 35% of respondents felt unwelcome in the United States, 72% felt unsafe as an academic, 42% were afraid of doing research; , it is more difficult to recruit international students; about 61% of the respondents consider leaving the United States to conduct research in other countries.

These negative effects are largely due to the "China Action Plan" launched by the Trump administration of the United States. The program, which framed and discredited Chinese scientists, sparked complaints from the academic community and was forced to end earlier this year.

"In the past, immigrant scientists and engineers from China complained that although they did a lot of hard work, they were generally unable to reach leadership positions or gain recognition, hitting the 'bamboo ceiling'. After the 'China Action Plan' was launched, Most Chinese scientists in the United States feel the 'chilling effect' of potential federal investigations and prosecutions, and have new reasons to be pessimistic about their careers in the United States." Xie Yu et al. wrote in the conclusion of the report.

The US "Foreign Policy" magazine previously published an article titled "The United States Cannot Afford the Consequences of Losing Chinese Talents", arguing that it is not reasonable to completely exclude Chinese students from American academic and scientific research, and it may damage the key comparative advantages of the United States, namely The strength and dynamism of its research entity and innovation ecosystem.

"Talent decoupling" is turning back the wheel of history

People-to-people and cultural exchanges have brought tangible benefits to the people of China and the United States. The Asian American Scholars Forum report also shows that in 2020, 17% of the 34,000 people who received doctoral degrees in the field of science and engineering in the United States came from China. Some people continue to work in the United States after graduation, and together with the native Chinese in the United States, they have become a large group in the American technology field.

A recent report by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on the background, policy and impact of the "decoupling" of US and Chinese science and engineering talents pointed out that Chinese students and researchers have at least three ways to influence the US's Contributes to competitiveness, including university income, technological innovation, and national security.

Facing the advocacy of "talent decoupling" by a small number of people, former U.S. ambassador to China Baucus and many other famous people denounced actions such as obstructing people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and China as "returning to McCarthyism."

Thorpe, editor-in-chief of the American "Science" magazine, emphasized: "Scientific progress depends on collaboration, on recruiting the best talents to solve important scientific problems, and on disseminating these discoveries to the world. A race for the nation's best minds, as a race to hide secrets that cannot be widely shared, violates the core values of the scientific community."

The British "Nature" magazine recently quoted data from the American Institute of International Education saying that the number of international students in the United States has begun to decline. In the 2020-2021 school year, the number of graduate students will drop by 12.1%, and the number of international scholars (especially postdoctoral and visiting scholars) will drop by 31%.

Liang Zheng, deputy director of the China Science and Technology Policy Research Center of Tsinghua University, said that when scientific issues are "politicized" and national security is generalized, the most direct impact is that academic independence and freedom are challenged and scientists' professional confidence is hit. The impact on the scientific enterprise in the long run is huge. Under the current situation, it is even more necessary to strengthen dialogue and exchanges between the scientific and technological circles of China and the United States, especially the academic circles and non-governmental organizations, so that science can return to its proper track, and the right to choose scientific research activities, including cooperation, should be returned to scientists.

(Editors in charge: Yu Yang, Cui Yue)

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