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Barrasso Quizzes DOE on China Interactions

MAR 12, 2024
The Department of Energy defended the meetings as being a normal part of global collaboration.
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Science Policy Reporter, FYI American Institute of Physics
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Seal of the Department of Energy

(DOE)

Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) sent a letter to the Department of Energy last week expressing concern over a series of meetings between DOE officials and representatives of the Chinese government.

The letter asserts the meetings “went beyond mere diplomatic courtesies” and, in some cases, “served as forums in which the taxpayer-funded research and development of our national labs was offered up for the benefit of Chinese state-owned enterprises and, by extension, the Chinese Communist Party.”

The meetings, such as one between the director of DOE’s China Office and the president of the state-owned China Construction Technology Company were publicized only in Chinese-media, Barrasso wrote, raising “significant concern about DOE’s transparency and broader collaboration with the CCP.” His letter requests a list of all trips taken by DOE employees to China, as well as details of how staff are prepared for these visits, and a justification for DOE’s “conscious decision not to publicize these meetings.”

A DOE spokesperson defended the meetings in a statement to news outlets. “Global collaboration on key issues — such as basic scientific research and addressing the climate crisis — are critical to sustaining America’s global leadership while promoting greater prosperity and economic growth for generations to come,” the spokesperson wrote. “To that end, department officials have and will continue to strategically engage with partners and competitors from across the globe to protect and promote American innovation, advance our technological competitiveness, and strengthen our national security.”

This news brief originally appeared in FYI’s newsletter for the week of March 11.

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