News / Science & Technology

NASA Lifts Ban on Chinese Scientists at US Conference

FILE - Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
FILE - Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
U.S. space agency NASA says it has lifted a controversial ban on the participation of Chinese scientists at a scientific conference in California next month.

In an email sent to VOA on Monday, NASA said "scientists of Chinese origin who initially were excluded from applying to attend the Kepler Science Conference at NASA's Ames Research Center next month now are able to apply."

The U.S. space agency says its initial decision to bar access to the Chinese scientists was "unfortunate" and based on a "misinterpretation" of government policy.

Earlier this month, a group of academics organizing the conference said they reluctantly denied the registrations of six Chinese nationals because of a NASA moratorium.

The organizers said the U.S. space agency banned visits to NASA facilities by citizens of China and several other nations in March, when a new U.S. law took effect. The law restricts foreign access to NASA facilities due to national security concerns.

The organizers said they only learned about the NASA ban in late September and denounced the legal restrictions behind it as "deplorable." Some U.S. scientists had said they would boycott the conference to protest the exclusion of the Chinese academics.

NASA says the policy concerning foreign access to its facilities was "clarified and the decision corrected" once the federal government reopened last Thursday after a 16-day partial shutdown.

A Republican lawmaker who drafted the NASA restrictions had appealed to the space agency to make that clarification.

Frank Wolf sent a letter to NASA on October 8, saying the law does not ban all Chinese individuals from entering NASA facilities. Instead, he said it "primarily restricts bilateral ... (NASA) activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies."

In a report published Saturday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said NASA sent a letter to the six Chinese scientists, informing them that their applications for the conference were "being reviewed for clearance."

Xinhua said NASA wrote that it hopes the Chinese nationals "will be able to join us" at the gathering. The news agency said it obtained a copy of the letter from one of the scientists who refused to be named.

China had accused NASA of "discriminatory behavior" for the earlier decision to bar the scientists. It said Beijing believes that academic or scientific research activities "should not be politicized."

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid