US seeks to extend China science accord, but only briefly for now
August 23, 2023 10:43 PM
Signed in 1979 by president Jimmy Carter and China's leader Deng Xiaoping, the Science and Technology Agreement has led to exchanges between scientists and universities, with the United States seeing a way to cooperate with a then low-developed China when the countries established relations.
The agreement has governed scientific cooperation and has been renewed about every five years without drama, most recently in 2018, but is due to expire on Saturday.
The State Department said it was asking Beijing, formally known a the People's Republic of China, to agree to an extension but only for six months.
"This short-term six-month extension will keep the agreement in force while we seek authority to undertake negotiations to amend and strengthen the terms," a State Department spokesperson said.
"It does not commit the United States to a longer-term extension. We are clear-eyed to the challenges posed by the PRC's national strategies on science and technology, Beijing's actions in this space, and the threat they pose to US national security and intellectual property."
Lawmakers from the rival Republican Party have urged President Joe Biden's administration to let the accord expire, pointing to the Chinese military's links to civilian science and President Xi Jinping's vows to build indigenous technology.
"It should come as no surprise that the PRC will exploit civilian research partnerships for military purposes to the greatest extent possible," said Mike Gallagher, chairman of a committee on China, and Elise Stefanik, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House.
"The United States must stop fueling its own destruction," they wrote in a June letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Tensions have risen sharply between the world's two largest economies in recent years with both Biden and his Republican predecessor Donald Trump identifying a growing China as the greatest long-term threat to US primacy in the world.
Biden has maintained Trump's pressure on China and in some areas has expanded it, including by restricting exports of advanced semiconductors and barring US investment in sensitive Chinese sectors.
The moves have enraged Beijing, which has accused the United States of violating principles of free trade.