Washington, DC — CSET experts on international security and cutting-edge technology today concluded a three-part series of online events for researchers overseas to help them guard against illicit tech transfer by nefarious entities.
“Successful technology transfer does not demand that scientists and engineers pick up and leave their current occupations or move across borders,” CSET Research Analyst Ryan Fedasiuk noted during the Ensuring Research Security in International Collaborations webinar series hosted by CRDF Global, which was attended by researchers from India, Indonesia and other countries.
Fedasiuk and CSET Research Analyst Emily Weinstein, authors of “Overseas Professionals and Technology Transfer to China,” have identified 126 professional associations around the world — representing a combined 145,000 members — engaged in transferring key technology, talent and intellectual property back to select proliferator states.
The authors joined moderator and CSET Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi for panel discussions hosted by CRDF Global and featuring experts from Harvard University and the Texas A&M University System.
Weinstein and Fedasiuk presented their research findings and outlined steps that the United States, its international partners, and the global research community should take to prevent the loss of crucial scientific innovation and expertise.
The team also showcased two interactive online tools that other researchers have used to draw connections between science and technology programs affiliated with or run directly by the governments known to apply international collaborative research towards military applications, CSET’s Chinese State Council Budget Tracker and Chinese Talent Program Tracker.
Weinstein recommended a series of strategies that the international community can implement to mitigate unwanted technology transfer, including:
- adopting stringent funding disclosure requirements,
- supporting employees in raising security concerns,
- compartmentalizing access to sensitive intellectual property, and
- establishing risk evaluation criteria to assess potential hires, research collaborators and funding opportunities.
The panel noted that the existence of academic professional associations — or individual membership in them — is not inherently problematic and that select proliferator states have seen mixed results in leveraging these groups for technological gain. However, given that the global technology space continues to advance, the authors argued that these activities raise important questions for U.S. policymakers concerned about proliferator states becoming international technology leaders.