In the four decades since China and the United States normalized relations, Washington has generally welcomed Chinese scholars and researchers to America, even when Beijing has been less open to reciprocal visits. Republican and Democratic administrations have operated on the assumption that the national interest was well served by exposing Chinese academics to American values.
Now, that door appears to be closing, with the two nations ramping up their strategic rivalry and each regarding academic visitors from the other with greater suspicion — of espionage, commercial theft and political meddling.
The F.B.I. has mounted a counterintelligence operation that aims to bar Chinese academics from the United States if they are suspected of having links to Chinese intelligence agencies. As many as 30 Chinese professors in the social sciences, heads of academic institutes, and experts who help explain government policies have had their visas to the United States canceled in the past year, or put on administrative review, according to Chinese academics and their American counterparts.
According to the latest think tank count from the University of Pennsylvania, the United States has 1,871 think tanks, India has 509, and China has 507.