The U.S. State Department confirmed Wednesday that over 1,000 visas issued to Chinese students and researchers have been revoked on suspicion of espionage, reported The Guardian.
The action comes after President Donald Trump stated in late May that the administration would keep some Chinese graduate students from entering the U.S., accusing Chinese nationals of stealing U.S. research and working with the Chinese military.
Chad Wolf, secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a speech on Wednesday that China had been “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 added.
Some Chinese students enrolled in U.S. universities said they received emails from the U.S. embassy or U.S. consulates in China confirming that their visas have been cancelled.
The students also say the notices stated that they would have to apply for new visas to remain in or travel to the U.S.
“The high-risk graduate students and research scholars made ineligible under this proclamation represent a small subset of the total number of Chinese students and scholars coming to the United States,” said a State Department spokeswoman.
She says that the U.S. will continue to allow those students and researchers “who do not further the Chinese Communist party’s goals of military dominance” to enter the country.
About 360,000 Chinese international students attend U.S. schools per year, making up the largest proportion of international students.
China has since condemned the U.S.’s cancellation of student visas, according to NBC.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says that the cancellations were “outright political persecution and racial discrimination, which have seriously violated the human rights of Chinese students.”
China also denied allegations of espionage and says it may take further action in response to the canceled visas.
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