Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland Security, said on Wednesday that the US would ban certain Chinese graduate students and researchers from obtaining visas to prevent them from stealing sensitive research.
Wolf reiterated U.S. accusations of unfair business practices and industrial espionage against China, including an attempt to steal the novel Coronavirus study, and accused China of abusing student visas to take advantage of U.S. academia.
“We are preventing certain Chinese graduate students and researchers related to China’s military integration strategy from getting visas to prevent them from stealing or misappropriating sensitive research,” he said in a speech in Washington.
The United States also “blocks products made by slave labor from entering our markets and demands that China respect the inherent dignity of every human being,” Wolf said, in an apparent reference to alleged abuses of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
Wolff didn’t give details.
Us Customs and Border Protection officials are poised to order a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang, citing allegations of forced Labour, although formal announcements have been delayed.
Relations between China and the US have sunk to a record low as the world’s two largest economies clash over issues such as trade, human rights, Hong Kong and the coronavirus.
US President Donald Trump has trumpeted friendly relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping as he sought to deliver on his promise to rebalance a huge trade deficit. But he is now making getting tough with China a key part of his re-election campaign on November 3. He accused His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, who leads in most polls, of being soft on China.
Earlier, some Chinese students studying at U.S. universities said they received email notifications Wednesday from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or the U.S. Consulate in China informing them that their visas had been canceled.
Nearly 50 students with f-1 academic visas, both graduate and undergraduate, said in WeChat chat rooms that the notice said they would have to apply for new visas if they wanted to go to the United States.
Many students said they majored in science, technology, engineering and math. Some said they were graduate students with bachelor’s degrees at Chinese universities with ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
In late May, people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Washington planned to revoke the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students believed to have links to the Chinese military.