Who’s that knocking at ORNL’s front door? Yep, it’s China (again and again)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory received thousands of foreign visitors in 2011, with the total up by about 800 over the previous year. There were 114 different countries represented, but China again topped the list in a big way. More than a fifth of the lab’s total foreign visitors were from China. It’s at least the fourth year in a row that China has headed the roster at the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science lab, having more than twice as many visitors as the next country (India).
Here’s the Top 10:
1. China — 1,894 (visitors)
2. India — 806
3. Germany — 591
4. Japan — 534
5. United Kingdom — 459
6. Canada — 426
7. South Korea — 421
8. France — 347
9. Russia — 312
10. Italy — 153


China, of course, is a global force in science and becoming more so all the time. ORNL is a leading research institution in multiple areas, including neutron sciences, and probably has the best stable of supercomputers in the world. Recently, however, the lab’s scientific computing chief acknowledged that China will be hard to compete with in the future because of the ready resources being put into computer development.
Here’s the complete list of foreign visitors by country (alphabetically)
Albania–2
Algeria–6
Argentina–41
Armenia–8
Australia–93
Austria–46
Azerbaijan–1
Bahamas–3
Bangladesh–26
Belarus–6
Belgium–46
Bharain–3
Bolivia–2
Bosnia-Herz.–2
Brazil–57
Bulgaria–29
Cameroon–9
Canada–426
Chile–3
China–1,894
Colombia–39
Comoros–5
Croatia–10
Cyprus–5
Czech Republic–36
Denmark–77
Ecuador–12
Egypt–29
El Salvador–5
Eritrea–4
Estonia–4
Ethiopia–23
Finland–20
France–347
Georgia–2
Germany–591
Ghana–7
Greece–40
Guatemala–3
Hong Kong–10
Hungary–58
Iceland–1
India–806
Indonesia–14
Iraq–4
Ireland–18
Israel–24
Italy–153
Japan–534
Jordan–13
Kazakhstan–6
Kenya–13
Kuwait–13
Laos-2
Latvia–1
Lebanon–11
Lithuania–4
Luxembourg–5
Macau–3
Macedonia–5
Malaysia–10
Mauritius–2
Mexico–89
Moldova–6
Mongolia–4
Morocco–7
Nepal–48
Netherlands–71
New Zealand–25
Nicaragua–1
Nigeria–22
Norway–28
Oman–4
Pakistan–13
PalestinianTerr–1
Panama–2
Peru–6
Philippines–12
Poland–50
Portugal–16
Puerto Rico–2
Qatar–6
Romania–61
Russian Fed.–312
Rwanda–4
Saudi Arabia–23
Senegal–3
Serbia–15
Singapore–12
Slovakia–25
Slovenia–3
South Africa–56
South Korea–421
Spain–135
Sri Lanka–27
stateless–29
Swaziland–1
Sweden–115
Switzerland–53
Taiwan–141
Tajikistan–1
Thailand–22
Trinidad,Tobago–14
Tunisia–3
Turkey–120
Turkmenistan–7
Turks/Caicos–5
Ukraine–54
United Kingdom–459
Uruguay–8
Utd.Arab.Emir.–24
Uzbekistan–2
Venezuela–11
Vietnam–20
Zimbabwe–2
Grand Total: 8,273

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.

6 thoughts on “Who’s that knocking at ORNL’s front door? Yep, it’s China (again and again)

  1. Frank Munger

    According to ORNL, these visitors are not associated with any country. Basically, it means not having any recognized citizenship in a state or nation, a lab spokesman said.

  2. Robert Rogers

    Okay, someone explain to me why we are letting so many foreign nationals “visit” some of our most advanced labs? Shouldn’t we escort them back to the airport? There is so much sensitive information vital to national security at these labs! I think Americans have become too trusting!

  3. Uzza

    It’s not a surprise that China is visiting ORNL.
    Early last year they announced commitment to develop Molten Salt Reactors, which ORNL is the only lab in the world to have developed, and did so over 40 years ago under the direction of Alvin Weinberg.
    They probably want to learn every ounce of information there is in the massive stacks of reports made during the MSR program.

  4. Ed

    The US is too hung up on developing “green” technology which will only lead to using more fossil fuels. China on the other hand is planning ahead and has realized the potential in the molten salt program.
    The world has been waiting on the US to develop this technology for 40 years. China is sick of waiting, they are doing.
    The US needs a big change in its view of nuclear power soon if they want to stay a world super power.

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