Revocation of over 1000 visas of Chinese students alarms scientific community

Between 1 June and 8 September, the US government through the State Department has revoked over 1000 visas from Chinese students who were scheduled to return to the country.

The move comes amid increased scrutiny of Chinese students by the Trump administration, which has accused them of having ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

The State Department on Chinese Students

The Trump administration has also doubled down on its call for severing ties with Chinese Students who are found to have ties with the CPP, claiming that they are being used strategically to help the Chinese government in its quest to become the leading global military leaders. The revocation was following President Trump’s proclamation that called on the prohibition of people with ties to the CPP from being allowed to do research in the US.

State Department criticized the Chinese government in a statement, claiming that they have been leveraging research Chinese students in the US to help them develop their industries and military capabilities. The State Department also said that Chinese nationals who possessed valid F student or J exchange visas would also face revocation if ties were established that they were working in cohort with the Chinese government.

Scientific community criticism

Brad Farnsworth with the American Council on Education indicated that so far, only Chinese who are outside the US or those coming to the US for the first time had been affected. Those already in the US did not see their visas revoked.

Ben Corb, a spokesman for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology criticized the manner in which these provocations were being carried out against Chinese students and researchers, terming the move as troubling and lacking integrity. He highlighted the 15 Chinese scientists from the University of North Texas who were told to pack up and leave without further explanation, saying that this will have a huge future implication on the US ability to carry out research.

American Chemical Society spokesperson Glenn Ruskin said that, although he understood the need to protect US intellectual property, he was concerned that the revocation was using ‘broad-brush measures targeting specific countries’. He said that he hoped the revocation was targetted to lawbreakers rather than a sweeping policy.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science also voiced their concerns about the revocation indicating that they hoped that protection of the national security was not damaging the current American leadership in Science.


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