How We Got
U.S. and allied nation governments face structural and resource impediments that handicap their efforts to protect the security and integrity of research. Academic and private sector institutions are also ill-equipped to identify, assess, or mitigate risks to research and innovation.
In the United States, government attention and responses have been primarily limited to fighting lawbreakers, partly due to democracy’s constraints on power.
There remains a persistent dearth of Mandarin language-capable analysts and subject matter experts in U.S. and allied nation governments, particularly concerning China’s global technology and knowledge acquisition apparatus.
Academia lacks resources, subject matter knowledge, or incentives to conduct due diligence on foreign research partners and foreign sources of revenue. It is unreasonable to expect or place most of the burden of performing due diligence and risk assessments on individual institutions.
Ethical risks to research collaboration with the PRC and other authoritarian nations are rarely evaluated if the research does not involve human subjects.
Universities’ lack of transparency on foreign revenue sources means there is little scrutiny over ethical, integrity, national security, or malign foreign influence risks.
Early-stage research conducted at technology firms or corporate-sponsored research in academia receives little scrutiny, and risks to the security or integrity of that research are rarely assessed.
Private foundations and companies fund research in academia where the researchers collaborate with PRC military organs, defense conglomerates, and weapons laboratories without their knowledge, raising national security and reputational risks. Some research collaborations with China may also have mass surveillance applications that can enhance China’s human rights abuses.
Protecting the earlier stages of our innovation ecosystems will become even more critical in the near future as the pace of technology development accelerates; in many areas, timelines will likely shorten between fundamental research and the development of commercially viable or weaponizable applications.