Trump administration officials announced the revocation of over 1,000 student visas since June from Chinese nationals associated with programs supporting the People’s Liberation Army, CNN reported Thursday.
According to the State Department, "high-risk graduate students and research scholars" were expelled after they "were found to be subject to Presidential Proclamation 10043 and therefore ineligible for a visa."
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Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Wednesday called out China for "abusing student visas to exploit American academia" and said visas were blocked to prevent certain Chinese students and researchers from "stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research."
An estimated 369,000 Chinese nationals currently study at American institutions of higher learning, the vast majority of whom pose no threat to the security of American research and innovation. Chinese students have been the largest contingent of foreign students at American universities for over a decade. A significant portion of this student population, however, has engaged in the theft of sensitive American research in STEM fields, especially those pertaining to cybersecurity, spacecraft, and now critical coronavirus research.
These students spying on behalf of the PRC are often aided by a complicated network of Confucius Institutes on campus, Chinese embassies and attachés in urban centers, and China’s Thousand Talents program.
In recent months, eliminating Chinese influence in higher education has been a focal point of the Trump administration. As a large part of the Department of State’s recent flurry of "clean" orders that force out Chinese influence from major American institutions of industry, innovation, and technology, Washington has taken direct aim at higher education.
An August letter from Keith Krach, the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, advised college administrators about the growing threat of hosting Beijing-affiliated organizations, investments, and agents on college campuses.
In August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Confucius Institutes would now be listed as foreign missions, prompting the closing and hollowing out of dozens of the groups at elite institutions nationwide.
"Confucius Institutes are funded by the PRC and part of the Chinese Communist Party’s global influence and propaganda apparatus," a press release from the State Department reads. "The United States wants to ensure that students on U.S. campuses have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies."