NASA: Affiliations with China and Disclosing Current & Pending Support

Clarifying guidance from NASA about disclosing current and pending support and affiliations with China.

NASA Restriction on Collaborations with China

NASA has a longstanding prohibition on bilateral collaboration with China or any Chinese-owned entity.

Since federal fiscal year 2011, federal Appropriation Acts which fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have included a restriction which prohibits NASA from engaging in or funding any joint scientific activity with China. Specifically, the Acts prohibit NASA from;

…using funding appropriated in the Acts to enter into or fund any grant or cooperative agreement of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese owned company, at the prime recipient level or at any subrecipient level, whether the bilateral involvement is funded or performed under a no-exchange of funds arrangement.

In this context, "China or Chinese-owned Company" means the People's Republic of China (PRC), any company owned by the PRC, or any company incorporated under the laws of the PRC, including Chinese universities. The PRC includes Hong Kong and Macau, but not Taiwan (Republic of China).

When a recipient of NASA funding, Cornell University is therefore restricted from collaborating with, either via a funded agreement or through a no-exchange of funds arrangement, China and/or Chinese-owned companies (as defined above) in the performance of the work funded by NASA unless approved by NASA. To ensure compliance with this restriction, NASA requires certifications from Cornell at proposal stage and includes implementing terms and conditions in each award. 

NASA’s internal implementation instructions are codified in;

There are limitations of NASA Restriction on Activity with the PRC;

  • The restriction currently does not apply to efforts funded by other federal and non-federal sponsors.
  • Only bilateral activities (i.e. two party agreements) are covered by the restriction. Multi-lateral agreements (i.e. agreements between three or more parties) are not subject to this restriction.
  • Agreements for the purchase of non-commercial items of supply from China needed to perform a grant or cooperative agreement are excluded from this restriction. Additionally, agreements for commercial or non-developmental items (as defined by FAR 2.101) needed to perform contracts/subcontracts are exempt from this restriction. Therefore, vendor (i.e. procurement) agreements with PRC entities for commercial or non-developmental items are not subject to this restriction.
  • “General scientific discussions” do not constitute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract and thus are permitted. However, these discussions must not involve discussions of bilateral collaboration between NASA and Chinese entities. See FAQ #8 located at for additional information.
  • The prohibition does not restrict individual involvement based on citizenship or nationality. Chinese citizenship is not considered an affiliation under these funding restrictions.
    • Example: A Chinese student enrolled at Cornell on a visa would not have to be excluded from participation in a NASA-funded project unless they have a prohibited affiliation, with a Chinese institution.
    • Example: An American citizen who has a faculty position at a Chinese university would have the kind of affiliation that would likely bar inclusion on a NASA-funded project.

Disclosure requirements to OSP

To ensure compliance with NASA’s regulations, the Office of Sponsored Programs will require all named project personnel within a proposal (including faculty, researchers, staff, and students) to provide information regarding affiliations with China. Responses will be reviewed and further guidance provided to the researchers for follow-up actions as needed. Additionally, if any of the answers change at any time following proposal submission through close-out of an ensuing award, you are required to contact OSP to update the information.

Researchers who are intending to apply for or have active NASA support and are pursing funding via the Cornell China Center must contact Jamie Sprague, Sr. Grant & Contract Officer/Federal Team Lead, before accepting Cornell China Center funding.

Disclosure Requirements to NASA

The NASA Guidebook for Proposers (dated February 4, 2021 and effective February 15, 2021) now requires applicants and awardees to disclose “all ongoing and pending projects and proposals (regardless of salary support) in which they are performing or will perform any part of the work. Co-Is proposing to spend 10% or more of their time in any given year to the proposed effort shall provide a list of ongoing and pending projects and proposals (regardless of salary support) that require more than 10% of their time in any given year. …PIs and Co-PIs also shall list their current and pending support with Chinese universities and other similar institutions or a Chinese-owned company at the prime recipient level and at all subrecipient levels, whether the bilateral involvement is funded or performed under a no-exchange of funds arrangement.”

NASA researchers are now required to disclose the following information within their Current & Pending document:

  • Financial Support. This includes sponsored awards held at Cornell, held at another institution/entity, or held as an individual that support an investigator’s research efforts.
  • In-kind contributions. This includes non-monetary resources that are uniquely available to key personnel such as office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees, students.
  • Chinese affiliations. This includes funded and unfunded support received from a Chinese entity whether such support is held at Cornell, held at another institution/entity, or held as an individual that support an investigator’s research efforts.

For questions regarding NASA China restrictions and current and pending support, please contact your assigned Grant & Contract Officer.