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At The Conversation: It’s getting harder for scientists to collaborate across borders – that’s bad when the world faces global problems like pandemics and climate change

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Lund University Professor Tommy Shih writes:

The United Nations and many researchers have emphasized the critical role international collaborative science plays in solving global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss and pandemics. The rise of non-Western countries as science powers is helping to drive this type of global cooperative research. For example, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa formed a tuberculosis research network in 2017 and are making significant advancements on basic and applied research into the disease.

However, in the past few years, growing tensions among superpowersincreasing nationalism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have contributed to nations’ behaving in more distrustful and insular ways overall. One result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for researchers to collaborate with scholars in other nations.

The near-global cessation of collaboration with Russian scholars following the invasion of Ukraine – in everything from humanities research to climate science in the Arctic – is one example of science being a victim of – and used as a tool for – international politics. Scientific collaboration between China and the U.S. is also breaking down in fields like microelectronics and quantum computing because of national security concerns on both sides.

I am a policy expert who studies international research collaboration as it relates to global problems and geopolitical polarization. I understand the need for democratic countries to respond to the the growing strength of authoritarian countries such as China and acute crises like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But reducing or stopping international research comes with its own risks. It slows down the production of knowledge needed to address long-term global problems and reduces the potential for future scientific collaboration.

The development of scientific capacity in many parts of the world and the building of academic ties is critical when it comes to responding to a new virus or tracking changes in climate. The more countries that share data and coordinate policy responses, the easier it should be to contain a virus or understand global warming.

Global consequences

Many researchers in the U.S., Europe and China have voiced concerns that geopolitical rivalries are curtailing international research collaboration at a time when the world needs it the most.

There is a major risk that the impediments to international scientific collaboration will further increase, further harming data sharing, the quality of research and the ability to disseminate results that contributing to solving problems.

The Conversation

6 Replies to “At The Conversation: It’s getting harder for scientists to collaborate across borders – that’s bad when the world faces global problems like pandemics and climate change

  1. 1
    asauber says:

    “solving global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss and pandemics”

    I’m all for collaboration across borders, but the 3 issues mentioned here are PC ones. Why just these 3? Surely challenges like food, water, shelter, transportation, etc, can be addressed scientifically, also.

    Andrew

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Why does one need Russian and Chinese scientists?

    The more the merrier but life goes on without them. They can always find ways to transmit ideas if they are relevant.

    This is a BS topic and is it just another way to scare one into compliance? Is Shih just an unwitting shill for those pulling the strings? Or is he a witting shill?

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I understand the need for democratic countries to respond to the the growing strength of authoritarian countries such as China and acute crises like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But reducing or stopping international research comes with its own risks. It slows down the production of knowledge needed to address long-term global problems and reduces the potential for future scientific collaboration.

    Communism is a long-term global problem.

    There is a major risk that the impediments to international scientific collaboration will further increase, further harming data sharing, the quality of research and the ability to disseminate results that contributing to solving problems.

    The CCP has been very interested in data sharing (data harvesting) and that’s why there are good reasons that “impediments” exist for such a thing.

  4. 4
    relatd says:

    Secrecy is job one, so that enemy states like China and Russia don’t get anything useful. Meanwhile, this article is PURE, 100% PROPAGANDA.

    CHINA will ALWAYS be a threat.

    RUSSIA will ALWAYS be a threat.

    Until we take out one or both.

    Meanwhile, thanks to GREED, I see rail cars with Chinese shipping containers on them. You got that? Cheap labor is more important to some people. China should get US Dollars?

    Does anyone know what a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle is?

    So, an ICBM goes up into space, gets oriented to its target and comes down. AN HGV flies at Mach 5 between 100,000 and 200,000 feet and can maneuver, making it harder to shoot down.

    BIG DEAL. Right now, there are ICBMs fitted with MAneuverable Reentry Vehicles, meaning this ICBM warhead can change course on the way down and maneuver.

    And we are being told to be afraid because Russia and China have HGVs. They are harder to spot because they fly at such low, relatively speaking, altitudes.

    I’m not worried. The US already has an HGV and not just one type.

    Scientific exchange? For what? If the Chinese want a vaccine they can steal it. The latest wind turbine? They can photograph it. The latest solar panel? They can steal that too.

  5. 5
    BobRyan says:

    Under current tyrannical governments, like China and Russia, the best scientific minds are considered dissidents and imprisoned or executed. Only the right ideology allows one to succeed in those countries. That is the reason China and Russia steal everything. They cannot create anything on their own. Being a good Chinese Communist or Putin boot kisser is more important in those countries than being good scientists. The same applies across the board for every tyranny.

  6. 6
    relatd says:

    BR at 5,

    Why did you write that? Russia and China are not threats? They do not have ICBMs or HGVs? They would never consider attacking the United States or Western Europe? They have NO ONE smarter than those who steal Western technology? False. 100% false. From the atomic bomb to various guided missiles, where was Russian research and development during the Cold War? In the Ukraine.

    Study some history, please. “tyranny” is a meaningless term. Stalin killed anyone he distrusted. Mock trials were held. It saved time and effort. Bloodthirsty? Sure. But it saved time and effort. No need to send the KGB and collect evidence.

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