China fury over canceled US visas

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Sep 2020

China accused Washington of "political persecution and racial discrimination" yesterday after the US confirmed it had revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students under an order by President Donald Trump that accused some of espionage.

Trump declared in May that some Chinese nationals officially in the United States for study have stolen intellectual property and helped modernize China's military, as tensions between the two countries soar on multiple fronts.

China's foreign ministry hit back, saying the US should "immediately stop using all kinds of pretexts to restrict and suppress Chinese students in the US for no reason."

"This is outright political persecution and racial discrimination. It seriously violates the human rights of these Chinese students," ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

Beijing reserved the right to further respond, he added.

The US State Department offered its first figures on the effects of Trump's order on Wednesday, saying more than 1,000 visas from students and researchers had been revoked since it began implementing the proclamation on June 1.

"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," a State Department spokeswoman said.

"We continue to welcome legitimate students and scholars from China who do not further the Chinese Communist Party's goals of military dominance."

Nearly 370,000 students from China were enrolled at US universities in 2018-19 - the most of any country.

US officials say the number of espionage cases involving China has soared in recent years as part of a concerted effort by Beijing.

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