WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced legislation requiring the U.S. government to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The bill would prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by these Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are original cosponsors. U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Read the full bill text here.
“I am proud to cosponsor the PLA Visa Security Act,” Sen. Cruz said. “America must be vigilant in protecting the research, training, expertise, and innovation that the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing and exploiting for military and industrial purposes. I am hopeful my colleagues will move swiftly to pass this bill to safeguard America’s national security.”
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is being armed with help from American colleges and tech companies. Keeping PLA scientists out of our research laboratories is a basic act of self-defense,” said Cotton.
“Student and research visas ought to be reserved for those foreign nationals who want to contribute to our universities and research institutions, not for our foreign adversaries and spies that wish to do us harm. China has taken advantage of us for too long,” said Grassley.
“We cannot allow Chinese military institutions to obtain visas that give them a technological advantage,” said Blackburn. “Permitting PLA members to access and research dual-use technologies in our universities and labs is damaging to our national security. We can no longer provide them access to the same research opportunities afforded to Americans.”
“For too long, China’s communist government has been exploiting our student visa system to spy on our universities and steal our technology. This bill will keep the Chinese military away from critical research on our college campuses and curb China’s economic espionage activities in the United States,” said Hawley.
“In recent years, the PLA has sponsored thousands of scientists and engineers to conduct sensitive research abroad, including in the United States,” said Gallagher. “The PLA openly admits that it leverages these efforts to support the development of new military technologies, and we can’t ignore the threat this poses to our national security. I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside Senator Cotton and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that American innovation benefits the American military–and not our adversaries.”
“This is a common-sense bill that will help ensure China’s military arm is not collaborating with U.S. universities and researchers on sensitive information. Many of these individuals often mask their PLA and Chinese Communist Parties ties allowing them to work at top universities without the schools’ knowledge of their military affiliation. This legislation takes an important step to protect our universities from China’s efforts to exploit our free and open society,” said Hartzler.
Chinese military scientists continue to research advanced dual-use technology in the United States and other western countries. According to some estimates, over the past decade, the People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 2,500 military engineers and scientists to study abroad. At times, these scientists have not disclosed their connection to the Chinese military.
- Kate O’Keeffe & Melissa Korn, “China’s Military Sends More Scholars Abroad, at Times Without Schools’ Knowledge,” Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2018
- Madhumita Murgia & Yuan Yang, “Microsoft worked with Chinese military university on artificial intelligence,” Financial Times, April 10, 2019
- Alex Joske, “The Chinese military’s exploitation of Western tech firms,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 12, 2019
- Alex Joske, “Picking Flowers, Making Honey: The Chinese Military’s Collaboration With Foreign Universities,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, October 30, 2018
- Assistant Secretary of State Chistopher Ford, “Why China Technology-Transfer Threats Matter,” State Department, October 24, 2018