The United States has revoked visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers under an order by President Donald Trump that accused some of them of espionage, the State Department said on Wednesday.
Trump, in a May 29 proclamation as tensions rose with Beijing on multiple fronts, declared that some Chinese nationals officially in the United States for study have stolen intellectual property and helped modernize China’s military.
The State Department, offering its first figures on the effects of Trump’s order, said that more than 1,000 visas have been revoked since it began implementing the proclamation on June 1.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,” she said.
The State Department declined to give details on whose visas have been revoked, citing privacy laws.
Nearly 370,000 students from China were enrolled at US universities in 2018-19, the most of any country, offering a lucrative source of income to institutions that are now facing growing pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Some Asian American activists have warned that Trump’s orders are creating a climate of suspicion on campuses, with students of Asian descent facing unfounded questions about their intentions.
But US officials say the number of espionage cases involving China has soared in recent years as part of a concerted effort by Beijing.
US officials accuse China of seeking to steal university research into Covid-19, a reason cited for the Trump administration’s closing China’s consulate in Houston in June.