Rights of Passage; July 1997; Scientific American Magazine; by Yam; 2 Page(s)
The tradition goes back to the beginnings of modern science, when Galileo challenged the Roman Catholic Church. In spite of persecution, scientists have invariably advocated free thinking, political openness and other human rights. In confronting the People¿s Republic of China, though, concerned researchers in the U.S. and other nations face a dilemma: how to help their Chinese counterparts while not aiding a government that could repress them.
Complicating that quandary is the increasingly intricate relationship between the U.S. and China. The U.S. faces more pressing policy considerations than militating on human rights, and as China assumes an ever more prominent stature in world affairs, the scientific community could become one of the last voices to speak out against intellectual persecution by Beijing. But they have yet to adopt that role, one that neither the U.S. government nor private enterprise is likely to fulfill.