The Trump administration is planning to ban on Chinese student visas and those of professors because of allegations they have links to China’s military, “People Liberation Army” (PLA) according to multiple reports published Thursday.
The plan, first reported by the New York Times, would see the administration cancel visas for individuals who have “direct ties” to universities affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army. It would affect at least 3,000 individuals currently studying or researching in the US.
Trump wanted to hurt elite liberal US universities: Forbes Magazine
Those who are in the US would have their visas canceled and would be expelled while others who are currently abroad would not be allowed to return.
There are currently about 360,000 Chinese students studying in the US, according to the reports, which are based on comments from anonymous officials who were unauthorized to discuss the matter ahead of its public unveiling.
Interestingly, Christopher Rim, CEO of Command Education, a consultancy firm in the US, had written as early as October 2018 in the prestigious Forbes Magazine that Stephen Miller, Senior Policy Advisor to President Trump, is putting up a plan to get Chinese students out of elite US liberal institutions to weaken the liberal credential and prowess of these institutions.
Miller, who is considered far right, thinks – according to Rim – that most criticism of Trump and Republican party comes from these top institutions that cater to large immigrant students. Miller himself studied at Duke university – a prestigious top school at East Coast. Almost 30% of foreign students in top US universities are from China.
Forbes piece had reported that the damage that this ban would do to the U.S. higher education system was presented to Donald Trump not as a risk, but as a legitimate reason to pursue it further. Hurting elite U.S. colleges was the goal, in order to punish institutions seen as critical of the Trump administration.
Now less than two years later, the Chinese students studying and researching at U.S. colleges and universities have become one of the targets of recent escalating trade frictions between the U.S. and China. Trump’s ban on Chinese student visas brings to the surface just how sour relations have turned between the two countries – but it now also shows that Trump administration and those around Trump had been thinking of these plans for past several months.
Ban on Chinese student visas: Amidst impending US-China trade war
The looming action comes as the US and China remain locked in a bitter period in their relations amid the coronavirus pandemic, which Washington says Beijing made worse on allegations it willfully misled the international community about the virus’ severity.
The feud has spilled into a number of arenas, most recently China’s actions to extend security laws to Hong Kong, which the US has strongly criticized and took action that would open the door to curtailing the region’s special trade and financial statuses.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that US-China relations are threatened by a “New Cold War” because Washington had been infected by a “political virus” compelling figures there to continually attack China.
Officials who defended the Trump administration’s visa plan told the New York Times that ties between the Chinese military and universities it has affiliated with “go far deeper than mere campus recruiting.”
US suspicious of Chinese students’ intentions
An official said the Chinese government not only has a hand in selecting students from schools who can study abroad, but in some cases students who are selected to study outside of the country are then expected to collect information in a quid-pro-quo that would see them having their tuition paid.
The CCP has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the U.S. What’s worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It’s time for that to end. https://t.co/57NBpsEkPf
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) May 27, 2020
One official who spoke to the Times declined to lay out specific intelligence.
Amid the possible action from the Trump administration, three US senators announced legislation Wednesday that would restrict Chinese nationals from receiving visas to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the graduate or post-graduate levels.
It would also impose restrictions on Chinese foreign talent-recruitment programs.
U.S. intelligence agencies are encouraging American research universities to develop protocols for monitoring students and visiting scholars from Chinese state-affiliated research institutions, as U.S. suspicion toward China spreads to academia.
Separately, intelligence officers have also briefed hundreds of American CEOs, investors and think tank experts on Chinese cybersecurity and espionage threats. “What we provide them is the classified information that we get from the collection priorities of China specifically: What they’re trying to collect on, what they’re interested in our campuses,” said William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
Trump blames China for coronavirus outbreak
US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both claimed that there is evidence the coronavirus pathogen came from a lab in Wuhan — the city where the disease was first detected late last year.
But the World Health Organization said Washington had offered no evidence to support the “speculative” claims, and scientists believe the coronavirus jumped from animals to humans, possibly at a Wuhan market selling wild animals.
China has strongly denied the allegations, but speculation and conspiracy theories have persisted.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk