China Hawks Target 1979 Science & Tech Agreement


A renewed urgency has gripped Capitol Hill's China hawks to call for the Chief of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) to report on patents issued to Chinese inventors.   

In place since the Carter Administration and renewed every five years, the United States - China Science and Technology Agreement (STA) "is a vector to give the PRC access to U.S. dual-use research and presents a clear national security risk...The Biden Administration must stop fueling our own destruction and allow the STA to expire," the lawmakers write.

"Despite the Biden Administration claiming that the STA has resulted in no dual-use technology transfer, we know that the Chinese Communist Party has previously leveraged the STA to advance its military objectives and will do so again. Alarmingly, the Biden Administration has extended the agreement twice," continues the letter, signed by six Republican Members of Congress.  No Democrats endorsed the request.

The U.S.-China STA

The U.S.-China STA is an umbrella agreement that governs U.S. government S&T work with China and is part of a broader S&T ecosystem of universities, firms, professional bodies, and nongovernmental organizations.

The purpose of STAs is to “strengthen international cooperation in scientific areas aligned with American interests, ensure open data practices, promote reciprocity, extend U.S. norms and principles, and protect American intellectual property,” according to the State Department.

The United States has 60 bilateral and multilateral STAs— including with the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, and Canada—and over 2,000 sub-agreements.

Advocates of the China pact say it guides U.S. S&T work with China without mandating activity; provides access and protections for U.S. scientists in China, including in the social sciences (where access has been more restricted); and benefits U.S. researchers by providing access to large pools of research subjects and longitudinal health studies.

STA critics  say that China is an unreliable or untrustworthy research partner, citing data restrictions and a lack of forthrightness  in sharing scientific results. he STA has provided the framework for PRC
students and scholars to study in the United States.  An estimated 42.5% of the international graduate
students in the United States are from China. 

Patent & Trademark Office Ask

In 2017, U.S. patent and trademark officials identified over 400 PRC patents tied to STA projects that the PRC commercialized without U.S. benefit.   Some U.S. firms expressed concerns about sharing foundational IP; others said the efforts’ focus  on commercializing and deploying emerging technologies seeded PRC capabilities in areas such as EV batteries.

The lawmaker's letter asks for the following:

  1. The number of patents filed annually at the USPTO since 2010 that were funded by the U.S. government, and included a Chinese inventor.2. The technology classes for these inventions, which US government agency funded these inventions, and the name of the Chinese entity that employed the Chinese inventor.

3. Any affiliation of the inventors or their employer with the Chinese military or with any entity under US export control laws.

4. Whether Commerce is aware of any patents filed in China that replicates the inventions applied for in the United States.

Until Congress repealed the reporting provision in 2016,
he Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce and the Central Intelligence Agency were required to report to Congress  biennially on how the U.S.-China STA benefits the PRC economy, military, and industrial base, including the role of technology transfer and compliance with U.S. export controls.

The Select Committee previously sent a letter urging the Administration to let the STA expire.

Click HERE to view the letter to 


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