Apparently xenophobia is at least part of the reason for a recently-announced budget cut to the US Office of Science and Technology Policy. Science Insider reports:
Frustrated that White House officials have ignored congressional language curtailing scientific collaborations with China, legislators have decided to get their attention through a 32% cut in the tiny budget of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) . . . A 2012 spending bill expected to be approved later this week slashes OSTP's current $6.6 million budget to $4.5 million . . . The implicit reason for the budget cut is an ongoing battle between House of Representatives Republicans and the White House over the threat to U.S. interests posed by collaborations with China in high-tech sectors such as space, energy, computing, and advanced manufacturing . . .
Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS (which publishes Science Insider) outlined the negative impact of a shrunken OSTP. "We believe such a drastic reduction to OSTP's budget will dramatically inhibit the ability of the federal government to coordinate, prioritize and manage the federal research and development (R&D) effort," Leshner wrote. "This kind of reduction would also seriously limit the ability to take appropriate account of science and technology considerations in the formulation of diverse policies."
So let me get this straight. During a time when basic science is crucial not just to our future, but to the world's future, a group whose goal is to foster scientific partnerships is spanked for . . . creating scientific partnerships between two of the world's most impressive science powerhouses?
Honestly this doesn't make sense from any perspective. It's bad for science, of course. But it doesn't help with national defense, either. The fewer connections the US fosters with China, the fewer avenues for intelligence. I'm not a big fan of international espionage (unless James Bond is doing it), but seriously — this move will only make everybody more ignorant.