Top medical institute warns of witchhunt against ethnic Chinese staff

By Michael Woodhead

20 Aug 2019

The dean of one of the world’s leading medical institutes, Harvard Medical School, has warned of the corrosive effects of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies and the ‘Reds under the Bed’ spy accusations against scholars of Chinese ethnic background.

In a letter to faculty members, Dean Professor George Q. Daley has warned of a “pernicious atmosphere of confusion and suspicion” being created by the Trump administration’s actions against international staff and students working and studying in US medical institutions.

He noted that the head of Harvard University had recently met with members of Congress to warn them that Trump’s unpredictable and hostile policies against international scholars were having a significant adverse effects  on American institutions of higher education.

“There are reports of protracted visa delays and other difficulties, even for routine processes. For members of our community, this is compromising classroom attendance, postgraduate work, medical residencies and so much more,” he wrote.

Professor Daley said Harvard also condemned the FBI campaign against alleged science-related espionage that focused on researchers from China.

“While there are some legitimate concerns about the confidentiality of the peer review process for grants and papers, and respect for intellectual property always warrants vigilance, the mounting and pernicious atmosphere of confusion and suspicion currently leveled against academic institutions should be of the deepest concern to us all,” he said.

“Singling out one country and its citizens is incompatible with the culture and mission of higher education and our national ideals.”

His concerns follow the ousting of three Chinese -American researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center due to claims they had undeclared links to China.

Professor Daley said American universities thrived because they attracted talented people from all cultures and backgrounds, “to come together to inspire and learn from each other through the safe and free exchange of ideas and experiences.”

“This interchange is critical for making discoveries that have done so much to drive new fields of inquiry, establish new industries and economic sectors and improve the lives of people around the world.

“Please rest assured that I will continue to work with [Harvard] President Bacow to advocate for and protect the interests of our international scholars,” he told staff.

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