Go back

UK ministers reviewing all R&D links with China, Freeman says

Image: Dmitrii Shirinkin, via Shutterstock

Science minister promises to look at organisations “we know to be aggressive” in acquiring IP

The UK government is reviewing all its research and innovation links with China, according to science minister George Freeman.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 8 March, Freeman said he had “literally just received” a detailed assessment of such links from the national funding agency UK Research and Innovation.

Freeman said that along with security minister Tom Tugendhat, he would use the assessment to look at organisations that “we know to be aggressive in their international acquisition of intellectual property”.

The news comes against a backdrop of increasing global concerns over research security, including the threat of intellectual property theft and use of research findings for military purposes.

A similar review of R&D links with Russia last year preceded science sanctions against state-backed collaborations between UK and Russia.

Freeman said the UK was “toughening up our regime” on research security, highlighting the establishment in 2022 of a research collaboration advice team in the Cabinet Office designed to help researchers who engage in international collaboration.

“We do not expect all our researchers to be policemen and women, but we do expect them—and they are now required—to show due diligence before they sign some lucrative research agreement,” Freeman said, adding that the Cabinet Office body had handled 350 queries since its launch.