APS News

FIP Resolution Objects to New State Department Advisory

The APS Forum on International Physics (FIP) has issued a resolution objecting to a new "advisory from the U.S. State Department with likely negative effects on the issuance of visas to scientists from the People's Republic of China coming to the US as scientific visitors or students." According to an urgent communication sent out to FIP members by 1999 FIP Chair Joseph L. Birman (City College, City University of New York), the wording of the State Department advisory is vague, applying to, "Applicants who are nationals of the Peoples Republic of China and who will be involved in an activity related to materials technology." Says Birman, "We are concerned that it will be interpreted to encompass many fields in physics, materials science, chemistry, and related areas." The "advisory" requires that the application must get an additional "advisory opinion" from Washington before being issued, an extra step that could take at least one additional month, or longer


The Forum is deeply concerned by the recent US State Department advisory [reference to Section 221 (g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act] which restricts visa applications from The Peoples Republic of China. While we are mindful and support appropriate security measures in important Laboratories we believe the advisory is ill-placed. The effect of the advisory is to deviate from the principle of The Free Circulation of Scientists to which the United States has committed itself,along with the international scientific community. The principle of Free Circulation is also one we have used against restrictions imposed by other countries. The Forum is disturbed by the generalization of the possible adverse activities of one individual to a larger group, and the singling out of one group based on nationality. Our National Security depends in no small part on the vitality of the scientific enterprise - and this enterprise is put at risk by the State Department advisory. Thus, the Forum urges the leadership of the American Physical Society to protest the State Department Advisory at the highest levels, and to publicly state its opposition to the advisory. The Forum also urges the American Physical Society to reach out to the entire membership to inform them of the seriousness of this measure.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette