Apr 29, 2020 - World

Here's how many Chinese students are studying in the U.S.

Data: Institute of International Education; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Institute of International Education; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggestion that Chinese students should not be allowed to study science and technology in the United States has set off a debate about espionage and immigration.

What's happening: Under the Trump administration, the DOJ's China Initiative has targeted intellectual property theft at America's research institutions.

  • Chinese students studying in some sensitive fields already face new visa restrictions.
  • Cotton's suggestion on April 26 takes those measures one step further, proposing that any science-related topic should be entirely off-limits for Chinese students, because they could return to China and “design weapons and other devices that can be used against the American people,” he said.

Context: The number of Chinese international students at U.S. universities has nearly tripled over the past decade, and they comprise the largest percentage of the U.S. international student population.

Related: A recent report from the JASON program at MITRE Corp. found existing ethics and disclosure practices could both preserve and protect the openness of the U.S. research system, my Axios colleagues Alison Snyder and Erica Pandey reported earlier this year.

Go deeper: Harvard scientist charged with lying about ties to China

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the China Initiative is part of DOJ not FBI.

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