Nov 10, 2018

The scientists caught between the U.S. and China

Scientists at Central South University in Hunan, China. Photo: Guang Niu/Getty

The escalating U.S. fear of Beijing's spies chipping away at the American tech edge has a new focus: Chinese scientists who are recruited to return to their homeland.

Driving the news: China is making its Thousand Talents Plan — a widely publicized government program that has lured an estimated 7,000 Chinese scientists back home to date — disappear, reports Nature. The program has been wiped from government sites, and interviewers have reportedly been instructed no longer to mention the initiative by name when speaking with prospective recruits.

The big picture: Scientific cooperation between the U.S. and China is splintering amid the full-blown trade war and intensifying Washington rhetoric around Beijing's economic espionage. It threatens to slow scientific advances across the world.

  • "My sense is that things in this space are going to get worse before they get better," says Chris Johnson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thought bubble, from Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: China is making great strides in multiple fields, including supercomputing, AI, gene editing (biology), medicine, atmospheric sciences and space exploration, to name a few. Their goals are ambitious, and it's not so much that luring scientists back home will set scientific progress back, but more that it'll probably benefit China versus other nations, like the U.S."

Xi Xiaoxing, a physicist at Temple University, told Nature: “Every scientist should be concerned — not just scientists of Chinese origin." Xi was arrested by the FBI for sharing sensitive information with China, but his case was later dropped.

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Exclusive: Global trust in the tech industry is slipping

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The backlash against Big Tech has long flourished among pundits and policymakers, but a new survey suggests it's beginning to show up in popular opinion as well.

Driving the news: New data from Edelman out Tuesday finds that trust in tech companies is declining and that people trust cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence less than they do the industry overall.

"It was 30 years ago, get over it": Mike Bloomberg's partner brushes off NDA concerns

Diana Taylor at a Mike Bloomberg event last month. Photo: Ron Adar/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Diana Taylor, Mike Bloomberg's longtime partner, dismissed the concerns surrounding non-disclosure agreements used at his company, Bloomberg LP, telling CBS News that she would say to those bothered by the allegations, "It was 30 years ago, get over it."

Why it matters: Democratic candidates have used the NDAs as a talking point against Bloomberg, calling on him to allow women to speak about the reported sexual harassment and gender discrimination they faced while working for him.

Trump's opportunity to use Bernie as an economic scapegoat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Zach Gibson/Stringer, The Washington Post/Getty Contributor

Bernie Sanders is poised to become an economic scapegoat for both the White House and Corporate America, assuming that Sanders comes through Super Tuesday unscathed.

The big picture: If the U.S. economy remains strong, President Trump and CEOs will claim credit (as they've been doing for three years). If it turns sour, they'll blame Bernie (even though it's a largely baseless charge).