Expiration of US-China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement Will Have Consequences for Scientific Exchange, Progress, Science Group Says

Statement by Dr. Tara Drozdenko, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Feb 27, 2024

Media Contact

The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement between the United States and China, which facilitates routine information sharing, educational exchange and scientific collaboration in areas such as electric vehicles, cancer research and renewable energy expires today without administrative action.

The agreement was first signed in 1979 and has usually been renewed at five-year intervals. After extending the agreement for six additional months last August, the Biden administration must now decide whether it wants to carry it forward. The U.S. has similar agreements with 60 other countries. 

Below is a statement by Dr. Tara Drozdenko, director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Scientific cooperation and exchange between the United States and China is making irreplaceable contributions in areas like watershed protection, air and water quality, cancer research and reducing electronic waste. The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and China is critical to making this kind of exchange and collaboration possible, driving scientific progress. Cutting off contact will have consequences for the health, environmental, security and economic gains made possible by science.

“Failing to reach an agreement on such a routine and practical matter would be a mistake. This agreement is not about politics – it has been continued through many administrations and phases of the U.S.-China relationship, because both countries have understood the vital importance of exchange and cooperation in solving our biggest challenges.

“Science is an inherently collaborative enterprise and continued progress depends on the routine sharing of information, ideas and experience. Erecting unnecessary barriers will slow scientists down at a time when their contributions are needed to solve some of the most difficult problems we have ever faced. At a moment of increased tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments, routine educational and scientific exchanges can foster mutual understanding and keep the door open for future cooperation.

“President Biden should get the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement with China renewed without further damaging delays.”