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Chinese Academics in U.S. Increasingly Going Home Out of Fear


Asian businessman on airport escalator

In 2021, 1,500 Chinese scholars who were educated in the United States left to go back to China.

Credit: Getty Images

The United States is paying a heavy price for the China Initiative, the 2018 probe of academic and economic spying begun by then-President Donald Trump which has driven up the number of Chinese-born academics departing back to China by 40 percent, according to a study by the Asian American Scholar Forum.

The investigation was ordered ended last February by President Joe Biden. But, according to the report, Caught in the Crossfire: Fears of Chinese-American Scientists, "The China Initiative caused panic and an exodus of senior academic researchers of Chinese descent in the U.S." The number who dropped their American academic or corporate affiliation in 2021 in favor of a move back to a Chinese institution jumped by 23 percent over 2020. In 2021, 1,500 Chinese scholars who were educated in the United States left to go back to China.

The U.S. loss has been China's gain. The returning academicians have steadily moved into top positions in academia and industry, "lured to return to China by a combination of factors: large and fast-growing investments in science, high social prestige and attractive financial rewards tied to positions in Chinese institutions, and capable research collaborators and assistants," the report says.

From Asia Sentinel
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