Chinese students are facing an increase in US visa rejections. Wang Ziwei was looking forward to meeting classmates returning to Washington University in St. Louis after a semester online. However, the 23-year-old finance student said that his student visa was withdrawn due to security concerns.
Wang is one of at least 500 students who the Chinese government claims were turned down due to a policy enacted by then-President Donald Trump to prevent Beijing from receiving US technology used for military purposes. Students argue that it is applied too widely, and many are enraged by what they perceive as an accusation that they are spies.
“It’s all nonsense,” Wang declared. “How does funding students relate to the military?” The students join businesses and individuals whose plans have been thwarted by tensions between the United States and China over technology and security, Beijing’s military development, the origins of the coronavirus, human rights, and competing claims to the South China Sea another land.
People linked with the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, or colleges judged by Washington to be part of military modernization activities are barred from entering the country.
According to US officials, thousands of Chinese students and researchers participate in programmes that encourage them to send medical, computer, and other sensitive information to China.
According to Washington, Beijing’s “civil-military fusion” approach treats private enterprises and universities as assets for developing Chinese military technology.
In a 2020 report, the State Department stated, “Joint research institutions, universities, and private enterprises are all being exploited to create the PLA’s future military systems – frequently without their knowledge or consent.”
Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, has offered no indication of what he plans to do.
According to The Paper, a Shanghai online news publication, Chinese officials pleaded with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to lift the visa restrictions when she visited in July.
The measure is necessary to “defend US national security interests,” according to a statement from the US Embassy in Beijing. The policy, it added, is a response to “certain visa process abuses” and is “narrowly targeted.” According to the embassy, approximately 85,000 visas for Chinese students have been accepted in the last four months.
According to the report, “the data reflects that the United States stands willing to give visas to all qualified individuals, including Chinese students and scholars.”
According to US official data, China is the largest source of international students in the United States. The number declined 20% from the previous year in 2020 but was still nearly double that of second-placed India at 380,000.
According to an engineer at a state-owned aircraft factory, he was denied a visa to accompany his wife, a visiting scholar studying paediatric cancer in California.
The engineer, who only goes by his surname Huang, earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from China’s northeastern Harbin Institute of Technology. According to Chinese news reports, it’s one of seven colleges linked to visa denials in China because they’re affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Huang stated, “I was insulted.” “Does this indicate I’m a spy because I graduated from this school?” What makes you think this isn’t racism?” Huang said his wife’s fellowship was supposed to last two to three years, but she decided to cut it short to avoid being away from their two children for too long.
When one country attacks another, it has a significant influence on individuals, according to Huang.
Several students received rejection letters that mentioned Trump’s ban but didn’t go into depth about the decision. On the other hand, some students claimed that they were immediately rejected after asking which university they attended.
Wang, the finance student, claimed to have gotten a visa, but the US Embassy contacted him later to inform him that they had withdrawn it.
Wang is a graduate of the Beijing Institute of Technology, linked to visa denials due to its ties to the industry ministry. Beijing Aerospace University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Harbin Engineering University, and Northwestern Polytechnical University are other institutions.
Graduates of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications have also reported being turned down.
Last year, five Chinese scientists at California and Indiana colleges were accused of lying on visa applications regarding probable military ties. In July, the charges were dropped after the Justice Department stated that an FBI assessment revealed that such actions were frequently unrelated to technology theft.
According to the Chinese authorities, three students with visas were denied entry into the United States at the Houston airport in August after discovering military training images in their phones.
Beijing “seriously condemns and rejects” the policy and has urged the US administration to modify it, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
An organization that claims to represent over 2,000 students and intellectuals has announced preparations to file a lawsuit to get the limits overturned or narrowed.
According to Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for foreign affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, a “handful of student visas” were affected.
Students can begin the semester online or wait until the following year, according to Dirks.
“If they continue to have difficulties, the university will work with them to help them finish their programme online,” Dirks added.
Monica Ma, 23, said she was denied a visa to study at Carnegie Mellon University for a master’s degree in information management.
After spending a year working on her degree in Australia, the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications graduate said she needs to attend classes in person at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh because they are no longer taught online.
Ma said she had a job offer from an internet company, but she first needed to finish her degree. She has postponed her classes till next year in the hopes of obtaining a visa before then.
“No matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to change it. “That’s the saddest part,” Ma expressed her sorrow.
Li Quanyi, an electrical engineering student from Guiyang in southern China, said he had been accepted to Columbia University but could not secure a visa. Li earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.
The media did not return emails submitted to Carnegie Mellon and Columbia. Li has relocated to Hong Kong and claims to be content there. “Even if the rules change, I’m not going,” Li stated. “The United States rejected me, and I am not going.”