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The State Department is reportedly preparing to cancel thousands of visas for Chinese students currently studying in the United States over concerns about national security.
According to The New York Times, which claimed to cite officials with knowledge of the plan, the Trump administration’s revocation of visas would be focused primarily on Chinese graduate students and researchers.
“The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, overall, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States,” the paper reported.
While the initiative has been in the planning stages for a number of months, the final straw appears to have been Beijing’s “disastrous decision” to undermine “Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
The paper said that Pompeo talked about visa cancellations with the Trump White House on Tuesday. The decision is expected to impact around 3,000 students, all of whom have likely ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In sum, there are around 360,000 students from China who are currently enrolled in the U.S. university system.
Following Pompeo’s recommendations, the decision now rests with President Trump, the Times noted.
Talks of revoking the visas come as some members of Congress have drafted legislation to ban Chinese graduate or post-graduate students from entering American colleges and universities to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.
On Wednesday, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the SECURE CAMPUS Act, which Cotton — a Harvard-educated lawyer and U.S. Army combat veteran — said was designed to prevent Chinese “espionage” on U.S. soil.
“The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States. What’s worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It’s time for that to end,” he said in a statement.
“Beijing exploits student and research visas to steal science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing secrets from U.S. academic and research institutions. We’ve fed China’s innovation drought with American ingenuity and taxpayer dollars for too long; it’s time to secure the U.S. research enterprise against the CCP’s economic espionage,” added Blackburn.
The senators noted that earlier this month, University of Arkansas Professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang was arrested on charges of wire fraud after he failed to disclose ties to the CCP and Chinese firms.
The Times added:
American officials who defend the visa cancellation said the ties to the Chinese military at those schools go far deeper than mere campus recruiting. Instead, in many cases, the Chinese government plays a role in selecting which students from the schools with ties to the military can study abroad, one official said. In some cases, students who are allowed to go overseas are expected to collect information as a condition of having their tuition paid, the official said, declining to reveal specific intelligence on the matter.
U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) is set to introduce similar legislation in the Democrat-controlled House.
Earlier, Cotton called for banning Chinese students from studying in the U.S. over concerns they would try to steal coronavirus vaccine data and research.
“It’s a scandal to me that we have trained so many of so many of the Chinese Communist Party’s brightest minds to go back to China, to compete for our jobs, to take our business and ultimately to steal our property,” he said last month in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo.
“I think we need to take a very hard look at the visas we give Chinese nationals to come to the U.S. to study. Especially at the post-graduate level in advanced scientific and technological fields,” he added. “If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that’s what they need to learn from America. They don’t need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence.”
Cotton was the first U.S. lawmaker to suggest that COVID-19 accidentally escaped from China’s sole Level 4 bio-research lab in Wuhan.
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