Assistant Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Joseph Morosco testified at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration Hearing on student visa integrity that NCSC want to strengthen engagement with academic institutions to mitigate security risks.
Morosco highlighted a number of concerns that NCSC has concerning some of those from strategic competitor nations attending U.S. academic institutions. “We must be clear-eyed about the potential risks,” he said. “There are many foreign academics and researchers currently attending U.S. institutions from nations that are strategic competitors, including Iran, Russia and the People’s Republic of China. We are particularly concerned about the People’s Republic of China because it is among the United States’ most formidable economic competitors.”
Morosco pointed out that Beijing has articulated a number of industrial policies and long-term objectives that show the PRC is interested in acquiring technology or expertise that is of national security importance to the U.S. He went on to say that Beijing runs a talent program to recruit global experts, particularly from the U.S., to facilitate the transfer of foreign knowledge and intellectual property.
“Comparing the advantages associated with the presence of foreign academics in the U.S. with the attendant risks to our national security poses a significant challenge for the U.S. government,” Morosco said. “While there are many foreign students in the U.S., most do not have access to sensitive information or technology.”
He said that to address these concerns NCSC has advised decision-makers about the risks and issued strategic guidance to partners to focus analysis, collection and counterintelligence activities.
Morosco concluded that the initiatives NCSC engaged in to strengthen relationships with academic institutions were to conduct a robust partnership with research funding agencies to help them strengthen their counterintelligence and security programs, identify research and development areas that need to be protected from technological transfer, enhance collaboration between technical experts within academia to identify sensitive research and technologies of interest to foreign adversaries, and confirm that U.S. government research funding agencies know who to call if they have concerns or if counterintelligence or security risks are identified.
“I believe these initiatives can go a long way toward helping us address this important national security concern at the national and strategic level,” he said. “As the director of NCSC has recently stated, we believe our economic security is our national security.”
Read the full testimony here