One way to overcome the deleterious “brain drain” is the “Diaspora Option,” whereby developing states mobilize their overseas nationals to use the knowledge and skills learned abroad to help their motherland develop without them returning fulltime. In the mid-1990s, China’s hope for a “reverse brain drain” of overseas scientists, academics and entrepreneurs stalled. So, in 2001, Jiang Zemin introduced China’s Diaspora Option, labelled, “serving the country” (為國服務) without “returning to the country” (回國服務). China’s vigorous efforts have included an array of programs to encourage ethnic Chinese living abroad to transfer their knowledge back home. Many Chinese working abroad complied, some to strengthen their former homeland, others from self-interest.
In 2018, the Trump Administration declared war on China’s efforts to access this information through a McCarthy-like (or even Maoist-like) campaign called the “China Initiative.” This seminar documents the U.S. government’s counterattack, and its efforts to limit the transfer of U.S. technology to China. The case studies include stories of several unknown victims of that campaign. It also highlights the harm the war has brought to Sino-American scientific collaboration and the education of Chinese students in America.