An increasing number of scientists and engineers of Chinese descent are giving up tenured positions at top-tier American universities to leave for China or elsewhere, in a sign of the U.S.’s fading appeal for a group that has been a driver of innovation. From a report: The trend, driven in part by what many of the scholars describe as an increasingly hostile political and racial environment, has caused the Biden administration to work with scholars of Chinese descent to address concerns. More than 1,400 U.S.-trained Chinese scientists dropped their U.S. academic or corporate affiliation for a Chinese one in 2021, a 22% jump from the previous year, according to data gathered by researchers from Princeton University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The data, to be published by the advocacy group Asian American Scholar Forum on Friday, is based on changes to the addresses listed under authors’ names in academic journals.
Chinese scientists trained in the U.S. have returned to China in increasing numbers over the past two decades as the country has grown more affluent and gained stature as a center of scientific research. In the past decade, China has tried to recruit top researchers through talent programs, but historically the majority elected to stay in the U.S. Departures from the U.S. rose sharply starting in 2020, however, when the Covid-19 pandemic coincided with an increase in criminal cases filed against academics under the China Initiative, a Trump-era Justice Department program intended to counter national security threats from China. President Biden’s Justice Department said it would stop pursuing new cases under the China Initiative in February, following a series of failed prosecutions and complaints of racial profiling, but some scientists of Chinese descent said they still feel as though suspicions are being directed toward them and fear that will continue as long as relations between the U.S. and China remain tense.