Friday, September 23, 2022

Another Great Exodus

David Goldman read this Wall Street Journal article, and tweeted: We are so screwed.

You would think that what with China’s zero-covid policy, along with its human rights violations, that Chinese scientists would be thrilled to be working in America. And yet, among the exoduses that we have been following for you, the exodus of Chinese scientists counts among the most disturbing.

With America’s school systems producing social justice warriors and experts in critical race theory, the jobs in high tech have increasingly been going to people from China. Unfortunately, the products of America’s school system cannot do the jobs. 

The next time you get lost in a reverie about onshoring, put that one in your hookah and puff on it. 

Now, Chinese professors are decamping for what they consider to be friendlier climes. One notes that this group has also contributed to America’s technological innovation, so….

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.

And also:

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.

To some extent the problem reflects the rise of China as a leading technological center. To another extent, the Trump administration’s China Initiative, which sowed distrust for potential Chinese spies, sent many scientists packing. They did not like being persecuted for their ethnicity:

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.

You might be thinking that this is a good thing. Unfortunately, our diverse social justice warriors cannot replace them.

What fields lost the most people?

The majority of those who spoke to The Wall Street Journal were tenured and naturalized U.S. citizens, and many were experts in aerospace and biology—strategically important fields that Beijing has singled out for increased investment and that were among the most scrutinized under the China Initiative.

One Chinese mechanical-engineering professor said he left a top American university this summer after more than two decades in the U.S. to join a university in Hong Kong, citing a desire to be closer to his aging parents and saying he was fed up with the political environment in the U.S. The scientist, whose children were born in the U.S., said the political atmosphere had grown so tense that he stopped seeking out collaborations with other scientists.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, a goodly percentage of researchers were born in China:

A 2020 analysis by Chicago-based think tank Macro Polo found that China-born scientists account for nearly 30% of artificial-intelligence researchers working for U.S. institutions.

Chinese and other foreign-born scientists have been a source of national strength, Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and chairman of the U.S. government’s National Security Commission on AI, said in an interview. “We should never aim to cut ourselves off from a country that is home to 1.4 billion, with immense talent.”

As for scholarly research and innovation, China has moved ahead of the United States over the past few years:

In 2019, China-based scholars overtook U.S.-based scholars in producing the largest share of the top 1% most highly cited scientific papers—generally considered a key metric for scientific leadership—according to a study by scholars from the U.S., China and the Netherlands.

We are at war against China. We are fighting a Cold War against China. We failed to see that much of the best scientific research in our country was not being produced by Americans. As Goldman said, we are so screwed.


IamDevo said...

It seems to me that the earlier influx and (alleged) current outflow of Chinese-born "scientists" (for lack of another, better descriptive term) is perhaps neither all good nor all bad. Frankly, I am not sure that the USA benefited in the long run from an imported class of migrant workers (yes, high IQ, but migrant workers nevertheless) whose loyalty to this country was significantly less than their desire to become wealthy by working for the highest bidder rather than out of a sense of kinship with their American neighbors. I remember a singular example that provides an analogous situation, viz., that of Jackie Chan. He made a name for himself and a (very) small fortune in China and decided he could do better by bringing his talents to Hollywood, He did so, made a killing financially, then decided he preferred living among people who looked like him, so he hightailed it back to China. He has been quoted as saying he supports the CCP and likes the way things are run in his natal land. So much for immigrant loyalties, I guess. I remain appalled nevertheless with the current dynamic afoot in this benighted former republic, with its preoccupation with sexual debauchery, racialist government and general stupidity. Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted and if the current generation wants things to be different, then it's their world and welcome to it. I shall remain here as long as The Lord intends, then move on to the next life while those left behind here continue to sort things out for better or worse.

art.the.nerd said...


kurt9 said...

What David Goldman is saying is all true. But China still has to pass two hurtles to become top-tier. They have to make their own semiconductor process "tools" (like AMAT and LamNovellus) as well as their own high-bypass jet engines like those made by Pratt & Whitney, GE, and Rolls Royce.

ErisGuy said...

Razib Khan recently interviewed a Pakistani geneticist who opted for China over the US or EU.