June 29, 2020

Trump Seeks to Restrict Chinese Students

Trump Seeks to Restrict Chinese Students

The Trump Administration plans to cancel visas for Chinese graduate students and researchers in the STEM field as a way to limit foreign involvement in research. The administration wants to cut ties with any student who may be affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, said to be around 3,000 of the 360,000 Chinese students in the United States. The White House released a statement, asserting that “President Donald J. Trump is dismantling China’s ability to use graduate students to steal intellectual property and technology from the United States.”

The main purpose of the ban is to decrease spying and intellectual property theft that some Chinese nationals are suspected of engaging in on United States university and college campuses, according to Reuters, adding that the administration expected significant push back from those institutions because of their financial interests in Chinese student enrollment. The White House also noted that “The Department of Justice’s China Initiative and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are directing resources to identify and prosecute trade secrets theft, hacking, and economic espionage.”

Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) proposed the SECURE CAMPUS Act as a way to prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the United States for graduate or post-graduate studies in STEM fields. The bill would also place restrictions on participants in Chinese foreign talent-recruitment programs. Congressman David Kustoff (R-TN) is said to introduce companion legislation in the House.

"Student visas should be only for those who want to contribute to our research institutions and advance our national interests. Unfortunately, China's Communist Party has been exploiting our universities to spy and steal our technology for far too long. This bill will put an end to this abuse. I am proud to introduce this legislation with my friends Senator Cotton and Senator Blackburn that will help safeguard our nation's national security," said Congressman Kustoff, in a press release. The SECURE CAMPUS Act comes as a rebuttal to the University of Arkansas Professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang’s arrest on charges of wire fraud for failing to disclose his ties to the Chinese government and Chinese companies.

Jeffrey Gorsky, former Chief of the Legal Advisory Opinion section of the Visa Office in the U.S. Department of State, has a different take on the likely results of the ban, telling Forbes “The proclamation will damage the exchange of knowledge and talent. It may inhibit the ability of the People’s Republic of China (PCR) to access some technology that may have military implications, but the Chinese military will have other sources in other countries. America will lose out on a valuable talent pool and the financial and scientific contributions these students make to U.S. universities and the United States.”