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.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.