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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid