It was reported recently that certain universities and medical research centers in the U.S. made adverse employment decisions against several Chinese-American scientists who were suspected of disclosing confidential information regarding federal funded research to China. Around the same time, it was also reported that the U.S. authorities had charged a Chinese-American engineer at a multinational company in the New York State and a Chinese businessman in Liaoning province with economic espionage.
These news reports triggered significant concerns among Chinese and Chinese-American scientists, engineers and researchers working in the U.S. It is a lose-lose situation for both employers and employees as the employers lost valuable talents and the employees lost their jobs and exposed themselves to potential civil and criminal charges.
This article sets out to provide practical tips without engaging in a discussion on broader principles such as racial profiling and academic freedom. For a discussion of these principles, please see the recent dialog between Chinese-American scientists and Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), on Science.1 The article is structured as a Q&A to address some of the most common questions that concern scientists, engineers and researchers with regard to the confidentiality and ethical requirements under agreements, employment policies and U.S. law.
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