Chinese Scientists Want to Conduct Research in U.S. Waters—Should Washington Let Them?

Reuters

Chinese Scientists Want to Conduct Research in U.S. Waters—Should Washington Let Them?

In recent years, Chinese scientists—and the government agencies that back them—have fixed their gaze on American waters, especially those near the U.S. territory of Guam. This has raised questions about the ability of current policy to adequately protect U.S. interests.

These straightforward steps can be taken right away as a matter of Executive Policy. However, they should be followed by a more thorough evaluation of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Chinese MSR. This should happen sooner rather than later. Beijing’s oceanographic activities are expanding at a rapid pace, and its ambitions do not end at the Second Island Chain. In the coming years, Washington can expect Chinese scientists to seek access to waters near Alaska, Hawaii, and eventually the coasts of continental United States. What will our policy be then?

Ryan D. Martinson is an assistant professor in the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. He researches Chinese maritime strategy. His views do not reflect the views of the U.S. government.

Peter Dutton is a professor of strategic studies and director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College. Professor Dutton's current research focuses on American and Chinese views of sovereignty and international law of the sea and the strategic implications to the United States and the United States Navy of Chinese international law and policy choices. His views do not reflect the views of the U.S. government.