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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.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 5, 2020 - World

China says U.S. is "endangering peace" with high-level visit to Taiwan

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.