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. President Biden’s Justice Department said it would stop pursuing new cases under the China Initiative in February, following a series of failed prosecutions and complaints of racial profiling, but some scientists of Chinese descent said they still feel as though suspicions are being directed toward them and fear that will continue as long as relations between the U.S. and China remain tense.
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