US-China tensions spill over to Chinese graduate students

US-China tensions spill over to Chinese graduate students
Source: Mandel Ngan

United States President Donald Trump recently announced that he would cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students, researchers and officials who possess direct ties to universities affiliated with Chinese intelligence, or the People’s Liberation Army – the armed forces of mainland China.

“We’ll be announcing what we’re doing tomorrow with respect to China and we are not happy with China. We are not happy with what’s happened. All over the world people are suffering, 186 countries. All over the world they’re suffering. We’re not happy,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.

There are around 360,000 Chinese students in the US, making them the biggest group of foreign students in the country. However, the proposal targets the visas of a subgroup of around 3,000 Chinese students and researchers.

The announcement has already been met with opposition due to the heavy reliance US educational institutions are on international tuition fees. Others are also concerned about the political tensions trickling down to affect how accessible both countries are to American and Chinese academic talent.

“We’re very worried about how broadly this will be applied, and we’re concerned it could send a message that we no longer welcome talented students and scholars from around the globe,” said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at the American Council on Education.

Although Trump’s announcement was not directly linked to the ongoing political tensions between mainland China and Hong Kong, according to anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Trump is also weighing targeted travel and financial sanctions against Chinese officials for actions in Hong Kong.

This also comes after heated rhetoric between China and the US’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that Hong Kong can no longer be considered autonomous from mainland China.

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