US universities call for clearer rules on science espionage amid China crackdown

The US government is converging on a long-awaited set of rules designed to protect American science from theft by foreign spies. A series of announcements this year describe steps that US universities and researchers must take when reporting foreign financing and collaborations to US science funders.

But university groups say they need more clarity on how to implement the rules. And the guidelines do not spell out how institutions can address concerns of racial profiling sparked by the US government’s crackdown on foreign interference in recent years.

The issue of foreign influence and interference in US research has loomed large as geopolitical tensions between the United States and China have risen. The new guidelines date back to the last days of former US president Donald Trump’s administration; so far, President Joe Biden’s administration has not indicated that it will seek to change the policies and that it is open to feedback.

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