Mr Joske warned that Australia’s export control regime “has gaping holes”.
“It is legal to train Chinese miliary officers in technologies that we couldn’t export to them, as long as the training happens on Australian soil,” he said.
“Regardless of precisely where the line should be drawn, the unsupervised and direct transfer of technology with military applications to the People’s Liberation Army clearly crosses it.
“This bill offers an important precedent to countries like Australia that should be concerned by collaboration on technologies that can be used to expand the Chinese Communist Party’s military power and oppressive social control in regions like Xinjiang.”
The US senator’s bill would require the US to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions linked to the PLA, and prohibit the granting of visas to students and researchers from those bodies.
“Keeping PLA scientists out of our research laboratories is a basic act of self-defence,” said Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, a leading sponsor of the bill. “It’s stunning that this practice isn’t already prohibited.”
Senator Grassley, from Iowa, said: “China has taken advantage of us for too long.”
“America must be vigilant in protecting the research, training, expertise, and innovation that the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing and exploiting for military and industrial purposes,” said Senator Cruz from Texas.
The proposed crackdown on research visas adds to a growing range of measures to curb what are regarded in Washington as unfair incursions into the US and its economy.
Late last year, the US government announced a review of export controls on artificial intelligence, hypersonics and advanced materials technology, alongside the controversial limits on Chinese telco Huawei’s involvement in the rollout of 5G networks.
Mr Joske acknowledged that the US bill could have a “jarring effect” on scientists, given China’s practice of blending civilian and military activities.
That makes it more difficult to argue that “collaboration with a Chinese civilian university, for example, could not be used to directly benefit the PLA”.
“The new bill will likely attract debate for this reason – it applies not just to scientists in the Chinese military but also to individuals who are or have been affiliated with the PLA and PLA-funded institutions, which could have jarring effects on the scientific community,” he said.