US revokes over 1,000 visas of Chinese students, researchers

Over 1,000 Chinese graduate students and research scholars would have to go back to China.

Credit : CGTN

The United States has revoked visas of graduate students from China. It also suspended imports of Chinese “goods produced from slave labour”. This is aimed to check suspected spying and human rights issues said a senior US government official on Wednesday.

State Department sources said over 1,000 Chinese graduate students and research scholars holding visas would have to go back to China, said South China Morning Post.

A BBC report also stated that the visas were revoked due to the security risk. President Donald Trump had said in May that Chinese nationals were suspected of being the PLA agents. He had alleged that some of them had even stolen data and intellectual property.

Around 3,70,000 Chinese students enrolled in US universities in 2018-19. China has charged the US of racial discrimination, said BBC.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said "This is outright political persecution and racial discrimination. It seriously violates the human rights of these Chinese students," said, adding that China reserved the right to "further respond”.

According to an SCMP report, lauding US President Donald Trump’s policies, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting head  Chad Wolf said the moves were necessitated for a certain purpose such as preventing theft of Covid-19 research, trade secrets and countering Beijing’s “commitment to remake the world order in its own authoritarian image”.

“We are blocking visas for certain Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to China’s military fusion strategy to prevent them from stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research,” he said.

The US is also “preventing goods produced from slave labour from entering our markets, demanding that China respect the inherent dignity of each human being”, he added.

The move comes close on the heels of the US Justice Department indictments of Chinese researchers in the US allegedly hiding their identity as People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) active members. Some have been allegedly nabbed while stealing away research from the US.

According to the BBC, Chinese students in the US faced rising hostility and suspicion on campuses.

Though Wolf did not directly refer to the detention camps for Uygurs and ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang, his remarks about slave labour hint at the Trump administration’s likely measures to restrict imports of textile, apparel items from China.

It will not be a blanket ban on imports. However, such goods would be re-exported or destroyed, it is confirmed that they resulted from forced labour.

These moves are in alignment of the Trump administrations view that China poses threat to their country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed to Chinese citizens to the world to “change the behaviour” of the Chinese government.

China being a national security threat was also underlined by US national security advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, and US Attorney General William Barr in their speeches.

On August 31, Biegun said US defence ties with India, Japan and Australia. known as “the quad”, should lead to something like Nato. However, Wolf statement over the national security threat may be taken with a pinch of salt in the backdrop of a House Intelligence Committee complaint accusing O’Brien of instructing Wolf to highlight suspicious Chinese activities and Iran and not speak about threats posed by Russia that have been assessed by DHS intelligence officers.

The complaint stated Wolf asked acting undersecretary of the DHS office of intelligence and analysis Brian Murphy, “to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran. Mr Wolf stated that these instructions specifically originated from” O’Brien.