US blocking visas of some Chinese graduate students and researchers: DHS

The United States is blocking visas for certain Chinese graduate students and researchers to prevent them from stealing sensitive research, Chad Wolf, acting head of the US Department of Homeland Security, says today.

In a speech in Washington, Wolf repeated US charges of unjust business practices and industrial espionage by China, including attempts to steal coronavirus research, and accused it of abusing 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,” he said.

Wolf said the United States was also “preventing goods produced from slave labor from entering our markets, demanding that China respect the inherent dignity of each human being,” an apparent reference to alleged abuses of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

Wolf did not give details of the actions.

Earlier on Wednesday, some Chinese students enrolled in U.S. universities said they received notices from the US embassy in Beijing or US consulates in China informing them that their visas had been canceled with immediate effect.

Nearly 50 students holding F-1 academic visas including postgraduates and undergraduates said in a WeChat chatroom they had received the emailed notices on Wednesday that stated they would have to apply for new visas if they wanted to travel to the United States.

Many in the chatroom said they were majoring in subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some said they were postgraduates who obtained bachelor’s degrees at Chinese universities with links to the People’s Liberation Army.

The news comes at a time when Sino-US relations have sunk to historic lows with the world’s two biggest economies clashing over a range of issues from trade and human rights to Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic.

In late May, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters Washington was planning to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students believed by the US administration to have links with China’s military.

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