China Calls US Decision To Block Visas For Students With Ties To Chinese Communist Party Military ‘Persecution’ And ‘Racial Discrimination’

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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China’s Communist Party (CCP) called the U.S.’s decision to block the visas of roughly 1,000 students with ties to the Chinese military “outright political persecution and racial discrimination,” according to the Associated Press.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, made the remarks Thursday, a day after Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that the Department of Homeland Security would be 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,” according to the AP.

Zhao said the decision damaged the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students studying in the U.S.”

“It is outright political persecution and racial discrimination, and seriously violated the human rights of Chinese students studying there,” Zhao said. “China reserves the right to make further responses to this matter.”

Wolf added that China was “abusing student visas to exploit American academia.” Over the last year, more than a dozen researchers, students, and professors have been arrested for lying about their ties to the Chinese Communist Party while accepting taxpayer-funded grants. Many of these suspects have been accused of stealing research, tax fraud, and recruiting talent to benefit the Chinese government. 

Most recently two researchers, both Chinese nationals working at the University of Virginia and the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively, were hit with federal charges including theft of trade secrets and obstructing an FBI investigation. (RELATED: More Than A Dozen Researchers And Professors At US Universities Have Been Arrested For Ties To The Chinese Government)

One of the suspects, Guan Lei, the UCLA researcher, was accused in late August of lying about his ties to the People’s Liberation Army in his 2018 visa application.

China has also faced international scrutiny as evidence mounts revealing the scale of reeducation and forced labor camps in Xinjiang, where Uighurs are alleged to be the victims of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign that some have called a “genocide.” The U.S. announced Tuesday that it would move to block imports of cotton and tomato products from this region due to the allegation, ratcheting up tensions between the two countries.