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The US government may restrict Chinese researchers, and that would be a disaster

If the White House follows through with plans to curtail Chinese scientists’ involvement in intelligence and military-related research, there could be a chilling effect on US innovation.

Cold war freeze: According to the New York Times, the Trump administration is considering broad new visa rules that could make it a lot harder for Chinese nationals to work on a range of technologies, including artificial intelligence, which is increasingly seen as a military asset. It unclear if this would prevent espionage, but it would certainly make it more difficult for US universities and companies to develop cutting-edge technology.

Upping the ante: The discussions are the latest step in President Donald Trump’s escalating feud with China, which appears to be inspired as much by the country’s rising technological prowess as by its trade practices and growing military might. Trump has threatened tariffs on around $150 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Chinese investments in American technology companies are increasingly being blocked.

Bound to backfire: The Trump administration has already introduced measures that have restricted the flow of top researchers into the US. The latest plan would only benefit China, which is already doing its best to keep its top talent at home.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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