The Biden administration faces a difficult balancing act in its approach to China as it strives to safeguard U.S. national security without jeopardizing the overall relationship. In the past, President Joe Biden had announced that he would take measures to cut off China from advanced semiconductor chips ,. This month, he ordered a restriction on U.S. investments in high-tech sectors in China like semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
The White House also has tried to ease tensions between Beijing and Washington over trade issues, human rights, and the status for Taiwan , by sending senior U.S. government officials to China, such as Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janete Yellen , U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and, next week Commerce Secretary HTML8
Readouts from the U.S. and China during Blinken’s visit to Beijing in June said that both sides wanted to increase people-to-people exchanges, which would include science and technology cooperation.
Chinese officials have indicated that they would like to see the STA renewed. Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum last month, China’s ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, said renewing the agreement was a small but concrete way to start improving relations between the two countries.
The agreement plays an “irreplaceable” role in promoting scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges, said Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Not renewing it, he said, would suggest the U.S. “is indeed launching a new Cold War against China.”
Wu said it would also create uncertainty around other forms of U.S.-China cooperation, on climate change for example, suggesting that they could be “easily susceptible to political disruptions.”
U.S.-China cooperation in science and technology has been “mutually beneficial” and the agreement should be renewed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“China firmly opposes the politicization and weaponization of scientific and technological issues, the generalization of national security concepts, and the setting up of obstacles to normal exchanges in the scientific and technological community,” the ministry said.
Allowing the agreement to lapse would signal to Chinese officials that the U.S. is less interested in “de-risking” the relationship than “genuine decoupling of everything,” said Seligsohn, who recently returned from a trip to China.
In addition, she said, it would further alienate Chinese scientists and graduate students, growing numbers of whom have already been leaving the U.S. after years of government prosecutions of Chinese academics accused of espionage that upended lives and careers but mostly came up empty.
“If we fail to renew this agreement, it really sends a message to those young scientists and potential scientists — the brains of the future — that the U.S. is not interested in working in them,” she said.
Supporters of the agreement point to numerous instances of U.S.-China collaboration that have improved the lives of Americans.
A large-scale Chinese study, for instance, revealed that folic acids are crucial in reducing risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida. Women today are advised to start taking folic acids well before becoming pregnant.
With the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, China has greatly reduced local air pollution, much of which was blowing across the Pacific and blanketing the West Coast.
Enhanced influenza surveillance in China, made possible by support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has also informed the development of annual flu vaccines around the world in what Seligsohn called a “huge success story.”
Supporters of the STA say China’s scientific advances have only made collaboration more valuable for the U.S. The STA supporters say that the agreement, which has already been modified in the past to accommodate any concerns, does not bind the U.S. into cooperating with China.
” “If you don’t like something, don’t do it,” Seligsohn stated.
The post U.S.-China tensions may sink key science and technology pact STA appeared first on NBC News.