A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced identical resolutions in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate that would require the US government to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The bill seeks to prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by these Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States.
Senators Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have introduced the legislation in the Senate. Congressmen Mike Gallagher and Vicky Hartzler have introduced the bill in the House.
The lawmakers alleged that Chinese military scientists continue to research advanced dual-use technology in the US and other western countries.
According to some estimates, over the past decade, the PLA has sent over 2,500 military engineers and scientists to study abroad. At times, these scientists have not disclosed their connection to the Chinese military, they alleged.
"In recent years, the PLA has sponsored thousands of scientists and engineers to conduct sensitive research abroad, including in the United States," Congressman Gallagher said.
"The PLA openly admits that it leverages these efforts to support the development of new military technologies and we cannot ignore the threat this poses to our national security," he added.
This is a common-sense bill that will help ensure China's military arm is not collaborating with US universities and researchers on sensitive information, said Congressman Hartzler.
Many of these individuals often mask their PLA and Chinese Communist Party ties, allowing them to work at top universities without the schools'' knowledge of their military affiliation.
"This legislation takes an important step to protect our universities from China''s efforts to exploit our free and open society," Hartzler said.
The PLA is being armed with help from American colleges and tech companies. Keeping PLA scientists out of US research laboratories is a basic act of self-defence. It is stunning that this practice is not already prohibited, said Senator Cotton.
"Student and research visas ought to be reserved for those foreign nationals who want to contribute to our universities and research institutions, not for our foreign adversaries and spies that wish to do us harm. China has taken advantage of us for too long," said Grassley.
America must be vigilant in protecting the research, training, expertise and innovation that the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing and exploiting for military and industrial purposes, Senator Cruz said.