Washington Clamps Down Harder On Chinese Academics

BEIJING HAS REACTED more strongly to the revocation of the visas of 1,000 Chinese graduate students, post-graduate students and researchers in the United States deemed a security risk than it has in the face of many of the recent provocations by the US administration.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said:

This is outright political persecution and racial discrimination. It seriously violates the human rights of these Chinese students,

Zhao added that China reserved the right to ‘further respond’.

In May, US President Donald Trump ordered an immediate halt to the issuance of visas to Chinese graduate and post-graduate students and researchers deemed to be national security threats to the United States because of links to any entity that has a connection with the People’s Liberation Army. He also instructed the State Department to seek ways to revoke those of such students and researchers already in the United States as part of his campaign to deny China access to US technology and slow its military modernisation.

The same month, the administration warned US universities and researchers at pharmaceutical and healthcare firms of attempts by what it says are Chinese state-affiliated hackers to steel coronavirus research.

Following the president’s order, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

We will not tolerate [China’s] attempts to illicitly acquire American technology and intellectual property from our academic institution and research facilities for Chinese military ends.

The US administration defines military links as any connection with the military-civilian fusion policy. Thus a further 4,000 of some 4000,000 Chinese students in the United States may be at risk of an additional round of visa revocations. The Department of Justice has also been prosecuting Chinese researchers who it accuses of concealing their military connections in their visa applications.

Chinese students (the majority undergraduates) account for more than one-third of all international students in the United States, the largest national cohort. They are a rich source of tuition fees for US universities and colleges, one reason that visa applications for undergraduate courses were excluded from May’s issuance suspension.

However, the State Department recently warned the governing boards of US universities of what it said is the threat to them from illicit Chinese funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of international students and opaque talent recruitment efforts.

It encouraged universities to disclose all Chinese companies that their endowment funds are invested in, especially those in emerging-market index funds, to divest from Chinese companies on the Commerce Department’s entity list and to avoid investing in Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges (which the administration would like to ban because their accounting does not comply with US standards).

In a separate measure, senior Chinese diplomats in the United States will now require US government permission to visit US university campuses.

As with business, the United States now sees education primarily through a national security lens.

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Filed under China-U.S., Education

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