The US-China Technology Cooperation Agreement Expired

by Carolyn Mathas

The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement (STA) between the U.S. and China, which had been in place since 1979, expired on February 27. The agreement provided opportunities for the two countries to collaborate on science and technology. Initially set to expire in late August last year, the Biden administration renewed it for six months while they determined how to proceed. In the past, they renewed the agreement every five years.

The U.S. claims China is an unreliable or untrustworthy research partner based on data restrictions and a lack of forthrightness in sharing scientific results. The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) warned in a November 2023 report that China’s cooperation under the STA was inconsistent. They also claim that, as Beijing developed science and technology competencies, it tried to restrict U.S. researcher access in certain areas.

However, Tara Drozdenko, the global security program director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, argued that scientific cooperation and exchange between the U.S. and China is “making irreplaceable contributions” in areas like air and water quality, cancer research, and reducing electronic waste. “Cutting off contact will have many consequences in these areas… This agreement is not about politics – it has been continued through many administrations and phases of the U.S.–China relationship because both countries have understood the vital importance of exchange and cooperation in solving our biggest challenges,” she said.

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