Scott, Ricketts, Senate Colleagues Fight to Strengthen Oversight of U.S.-China Science and Technology Agreements

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, joined Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Nev.) and 14 of their Senate colleagues in introducing the Science and Technology Agreement Enhanced Congressional Notification Act, which would strengthen oversight of science and technology agreements (STAs) between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by requiring the Secretary of State to provide comprehensive details to Congress about any new, renewed, or extended agreement and establishing a minimum 30-day congressional review period.

This bill addresses ongoing concerns that the PRC is exploiting research partnerships organized under the STA, using them to strengthen its military-industrial complex and develop technologies that could be used against the U.S. For instance, in 2018, under the STA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) organized a project with China’s Meteorological Administration to launch weather balloons to study the atmosphere. Just a few months ago, similar balloon technology was used to surveil U.S. military sites on U.S. territory. 

Earlier this year, Senator Scott offered an amendment to the State Department Authorization Act and National Defense Authorization Act which stated the STA was a risk to U.S. national security and should have been allowed to expire at the end of August 2023.

“For the Chinese Communist Party, the line between civilian and military research is non-existent,” said Senator Tim Scott. “When a Chinese surveillance balloon violated our sovereignty using American technology, we witnessed how the Science and Technology Agreement between our two nations could be used against us. I’ve said time and time again, this agreement is a threat to our national security. The Biden administration must ensure that scientific collaboration does not jeopardize our interests or enable an adversary to advance its malign agenda. I’m honored to continue this fight alongside my Senate colleagues.”

“The Biden administration has failed to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party time and time again,” said Senator Ricketts. “There is no daylight between the Communist regime and the private sector in the People’s Republic of China. The CCP will manipulate or disregard rules to gain technological and military advantages that put our national security at risk. Congressional oversight is necessary before we enter into science and technology agreements with our chief adversary. As the administration attempts to negotiate a stronger agreement, it should have to show its work. This bill would make sure that happens.”

United States Representative Andy Barr (R-Ky.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

Senators Scott and Ricketts were joined by Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Senate Foreign Relations Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).