China criticises US space agency over 'discrimination'

October 9, 2013
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced that Chinese nationals will not be permitted to enter the Second Kepler Science Conference on exoplanets at California's Ames Research Center

Beijing on Wednesday criticised the US space agency NASA for what it termed "discriminative action" over a decision to exclude Chinese from a forthcoming science conference in the United States.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced that Chinese nationals will not be permitted to enter the Second Kepler Science Conference on exoplanets at California's Ames Research Center in November.

The decision sparked criticism by some prominent US astronomers. It also led the US congressman who wrote the law on which the restriction was based to call the decision "inaccurate".

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was aware of reports on NASA's decision.

"At the same time I have also noticed that the discriminative action by NASA has also met opposition" in the United States, she added.

"We think that these academic meetings should not be politicised."

The restriction is based on a law passed in 2011 and signed by President Barack Obama that prevents NASA funds from being used to collaborate with China or to host Chinese visitors at US facilities.

The legal language was inserted into a funding bill by Congressman Frank Wolf, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

The law bans NASA funds from being used to work "bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company" or being "used to effectuate the hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or utilised by NASA," according to a copy of the legal text sent to AFP by Wolf's office.

Wolf's office wrote to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday saying the law "primarily restricts bilateral, not multilateral, meetings and activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies.

"It places no restrictions on activities involving individual Chinese nationals unless those nationals are acting as official representatives of the Chinese government," it added.

Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, the co-chair of the upcoming Kepler conference, issued a statement to attendees Tuesday, saying: "We find the consequences of this deplorable and strongly object to banning our Chinese colleagues, or colleagues from any nation.

"We are pursuing other options that will allow participation by all interested scientists either in person or remotely."

An attempt to access NASA's website Wednesday was met with a notice saying it was unavailable "due to the lapse in federal government funding", a reference to the ongoing US government shutdown.

Explore further: US swipes at China for hacking allegations (Update)

Related Stories

China launches crackdown on drug industry

July 17, 2013

(AP)—China announced a crackdown Wednesday on misconduct in its drug market, stepping up pressure on the problem-prone industry while it pursues a bribery investigation of GlaxoSmithKline.

Hackers attack exiled Tibet government website

August 13, 2013

Hackers have attacked the Tibetan government-in-exile's Chinese-language website with an unidentified virus, making the portal inaccessible, an official spokesman told AFP Tuesday.

Shutdown makes US 'less desirable' for science

October 2, 2013

The US government shutdown puts international science collaboration in peril and could have far-reaching impacts on innovation and research, a top science group said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

NASA team probes peculiar age-defying star

August 29, 2016

For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

Milky way had a blowout bash six million years ago

August 29, 2016

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is currently a quiet place where a supermassive black hole slumbers, only occasionally slurping small sips of hydrogen gas. But it wasn't always this way. A new study shows that 6 million ...

NASA's Juno successfully completes Jupiter flyby

August 29, 2016

NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.