Comments by Sanwar Ali:
It has in the past been suggested that actually, overall, Chinese students are good for the US economy. Eric Schmidt who was the Google CEO for many years and now runs two Pentagon advisory boards, has at times had concerns about Chinese students in the US and other times praised them. He had the following to say about Chinese students in June 2020:
“This current trend to restrict Chinese student access to universities is against our own self-interest.”
Eric Schmidt also had the following to say in June 2020 in a BBC Radio 4 documentary:
"There's no question that Huawei has engaged in some practices that are not acceptable in national security,"
As we have mentioned before there are also a number of serious concerns about human rights abuses in China. There are the Chinese Uyghur “concentration camps” In Xinjiang in China, the security law in Hong Kong, and numerous other cases of human rights abuses in China. That is not to say that Western Countries are perfect in this respect. For example, there are numerous concerns about human rights abuses in the US, the UK and the EU. However, the scale of human rights abuses in China are at a far higher level.
There are increasing sanctions by the US against China due to human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities. Many have called for a boycott of the Disney film Mulan using the trending hashtag #boycottmulan, which was produced with the cooperation of Xinjiang Chinese authorities. There is even a line in the Mulan credit roll that mentions an entity on the US sanction list! Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, on Wednesday condemning the company for what Hawley called:
“whitewashing the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities during the production of Mulan.”
The US Department of State (DoS) has revoked the visas of 1,000 Chinese students and researchers, claiming they had ties with China’s People’s Liberation Army. The DoS has reportedly been voiding visas since June 1 following orders from Trump to tackle intellectual property theft, according to a report published by The Guardian.
In the latest spat between the two nations, the US has accused the Chinese military of espionage. In recent weeks, Workpermit.com has reported on several instances of Chinese researchers, in the US on J1 visas and working at American universities, being arrested and charged with visa fraud.
During a recent speech, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said: “China has been abusing US student visas to exploit American academia.”
“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,” Wolf added.
Chinese F1 student visa holders targeted by US
The cancellation of 1,000 F1 student visas for Chinese students and researchers follows a proclamation issued by Trump in late May, which stated that “certain graduate level, and above, Chinese nationals associated with entities in China that support or work with the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), would be blocked from entering the US.”
Trump accused Chinese nationals studying in the US of theft, claiming that they were ‘stealing’ intellectual property and passing it to the PLA. In August, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, hinted that student visas held by Chinese nationals had been ‘flagged.’
During a local radio show, Pompeo said: “Not every Chinese student who is here is working on behalf of or at the behest of, the direction of the Chinese Communist party, but it’s something President Trump has taken a serious, serious look at.”
The US State Department has now confirmed that more than 1,000 visas have been revoked since June 1.
A spokeswoman for the DoS did not disclose any details of the visas that had been cancelled, citing privacy laws, but said: “The high-risk graduate students and research scholars made ineligible under this proclamation represent a small subset of the total number of Chinese students and scholars coming to the United States.”
Chinese student population huge in US
The revocation of 1,000 visas comes despite Chinese students accounting for the largest population of international students in the US, with approximately 370,000 enrolled in 2018-19.
The spokeswoman added: “The US continues to welcome students and scholars from China, who do not further the Chinese Communist party’s goals of military dominance.”
Several Chinese students found out their visas had been revoked after receiving an email from the US Embassy in Beijing or US Consulates in China.
Close to 50 students who had secured a US F1 visa, including several postgraduates and undergraduates, took to a WeChat chatroom to share that they had received a notice stating that they would have to apply for a new visa for US entry.
Deputy editor of Foreign Policy and author on China, James Palmer, said: “Students whose visas had been revoked were listing their details on an online spreadsheet, and many schools had only nominal ties to the PLA.”
On Twitter, Palmer posted: “One of the things about the Chinese university system is that it’s not uncommon for people to graduate from, like, the Jiangxi Military Studies University with a degree in forestry or English literature. The military element is legacy in a lot of cases.”
China blasts US on F1 visa restrictions
Back in May, China blasted the US for making moves to restrict Chinese students from studying in the US. Beijing urged Washington to ‘do more to enhance mutual exchanges and understanding.’
The US and China are engaged in hostilities on several fronts, with mutual sanctions imposed on officials, and an ever-growing trade war. According to a recent report published by Reuters, US customs officials are planning to ban cotton and tomato imports from the Xinjiang region of China.
The ban is said to be in relation to China’s mass crackdown on Uighur people and other ethnic minorities, which experts say amount to cultural genocide.
China has refuted claims that it mistreats people and says that camps are re-education centres to tackle terrorism and extremism.
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