The Trump administration is set to block visas for certain graduate students and researchers from China in order to prevent espionage and the theft of sensitive research, per Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
Wolf said nations like China were “launching new aggressive tactics” including unjust business practices and industrial espionage during the 2020 State of the Homeland speech Wednesday. He added that student visas were being abused in order to steal coronavirus and defense research.
“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 said.
Some Chinese students enrolled in American universities reportedly said they received notices from diplomatic embassies Wednesday informing them that their visas were cancelled, according to Reuters. Nearly 50 students with F-1 student visas reportedly said the notices had informed them that they would need to apply for new visas in order to study in the U.S.
According to Reuters, many of these students were in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Some were postgraduates who had studies in Chinese universities with connections to the People’s Liberation Army. (RELATED: China Accuses US Of Harassing Chinese Researchers Amid Series Of Arrests For Lying About Beijing Ties)
Wolf also said the Trump administration would take steps “preventing goods produced from slave labor from entering our markets,” in an apparent reference to reports of forced labor among Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. He added that the U.S. government would require “that China respect the inherent dignity of each human being.”
President Donald Trump has taken steps to crack down on China’s use of forced labor and human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortez said the president would prioritize ending “slave or near-slave labor” in his second term during a press call Wednesday.
The alignment between the campaign and the administration on the issue indicates that U.S.-China relations will continue to remain a central part of government policy should Trump win a second term. Cortez slammed Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden for not protecting American jobs and intellectual property from China.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also moved to block cotton and tomato imports from China’s Xinjiang region Tuesday amid allegations of forced labor.