Chinese scientist slams US political influence on academic cooperation

By Yin Han Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/12 23:03:41

Chinese scientist slams NIH for targeting cooperation

A prominent Chinese scientist has slammed the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) for allegedly targeting Chinese scientists and sacrificing research for political purposes.

"Scientists with spines do not bend to politics," neurobiologist Rao Yi wrote in both Chinese and English in a letter to the institutes' director Francis Collins published Tuesday on, a scientific media platform created by Rao in 2015.

In the letter Rao accuses the NIH of casting aspersions toward Chinese scientists by sending a letter asking 10,000 institutions funded by the institutes to disclose all forms of support provided by foreign entities.

Rao is a professor and director at Peking University's IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

According to the Scientific American on August 23, the NIH said in its letter that "some foreign entities have mounted systematic programs to influence NIH researchers and peer reviewers."

NIH has formed an advisory committee to work on the issue, the letter said.

Collins also encouraged those institutions to reach out to the FBI for a briefing on the issue in his letter.

Rao in his letter said Collins' move was "clearly targeting China" and called it "shocking" and "extraordinary deviations from the normal practice of science."

Collins on Tuesday denied the institutes' warnings targeting China, California-based tech news portal Biocentury reported.

Rao's letter received wide support from Chinese internet users and scientific workers such as Chen Hua, a research fellow at the Beijing Institute of Genomics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

As a researcher-turned politician, Collins' attitude toward China and Chinese researchers "to some extent represented the attitude of the US government and the main attitude of the country," Chen told the Global Times on Wednesday.

It is not a positive sign, in which the US delivered an unfriendly message to foreign researchers against the background of a trade war between the US and China, especially to those Chinese researchers living in the US, Chen said.

"It is unfair for the NIH or the US to accuse China or other countries as the US has been making use of research resources in China and other Third World countries for the past decades… Its attitude is biased," he said.

More Chinese researchers should make their voice heard as Rao did and keeping silent was unwise, Chen noted.

Rao earned his PhD in neuroscience in 1991 from the University of California in the US. He acquired US citizenship and worked in the country for 10 years until he returned to China in 2007 and gave up his US citizenship.

Rao was denied a US visa when invited to attend a workshop by the US National Science Foundation in July, according to news website

Newspaper headline: US politics imperils research


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