More than 1,000 Chinese nationals have had their visas revoked by the United States since June, under a program aimed at graduate students and researchers believed to have ties to the Chinese military.
The US State Department said in a statement Wednesday that “high-risk graduate students and research scholars” had been expelled, after they “were found to be subject to Presidential Proclamation 10043 and therefore ineligible for a visa.”
Issued by President Donald Trump at the end of May, and implemented beginning June 1, the proclamation claims that China “is engaged in a wide‑ranging and heavily resourced campaign to acquire sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property, in part to bolster the modernization and capability of its military, the People’s Liberation Army.”
The State Department said the revocation of visas “safeguards US national security by limiting the PRC’s ability to leverage Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States to steal United States technologies, intellectual property, and information to develop advanced military capabilities.”
Speaking Wednesday, acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said that “China has leveraged every aspect of its country including its economy, its military, and its diplomatic power, demonstrating a rejection of western liberal democracy and continually renewing its commitment to remake the world order in its own authoritarian image.”
According to the State Department, those affected by the recent expulsions “represent a small subset of the total number of Chinese students and scholars coming to the United States.”
“We continue to welcome legitimate students and scholars from China who do not further the Chinese Communist Party’s goals of military dominance,” it added.
There are some 369,000 Chinese nationals estimated to be studying in the US, though many have had their studies disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. For a decade now, China has been the “largest source of international students,” according to the Institute of International Education.
Beijing has yet to react to the most recent announcement, but in June, China’s education ministry said it “resolutely opposes” any US government move to restrict Chinese students and “strongly condemns any calculated politicization and stigmatization of normal academic exchanges.”
Relations between Washington and Beijing have plummeted under Trump, and the expulsion of Chinese students could potentially be met by Beijing with a similar action, following a trend of tit-for-tat moves in recent months.
In June, the US ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston, which Beijing responded to by shuttering the US mission in Chengdu. Both countries have also introduced new restrictions on journalists and diplomats.
CNN’s James Griffiths contributed reporting.