Following a backlash against its original decision to ban them, NASA has now decided to allow Chinese scientists into the 2nd Kepler Science Conference reporting on observations from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft being held at the NASA Ames Research Center in California in November. Apart from protests from China itself, the backlash included US astronomers and scientists who were threatening to refuse to attend the conference in a mass boycott unless the restriction was lifted.
NASA originally applied the constraints under a law which banning Chinese nationals from visiting NASA bases. Under the legislation drafted by Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, the law was originally framed to stop bilateral meetings between the US and Chinese governments as well as to prevent Chinese nationals working at such complexes in the belief that they were engaged in espionage activities. The NASA administration has now back-tracked on the ban after Wolf blamed NASA’s misinterpretation of the law which was not originally aimed at preventing conference attendance by individual foreign nationals.