After finishing his semester online, Wang Ziwei was looking forward to seeing his classmates returning to the Washington University campus in St. Louis. However, a 23-year-old financial student said the United States had revoked his student visa for security reasons.
The king is one of at least 500 students, and the Chinese government refuses under a policy that then President Donald Trump would prevent Beijing from acquiring U.S. technology that could be used for military purposes. It states that it was done. Students claim that it has been applied too broadly and smoke that what they say is an accusation that they are spies.
“Everything is nonsense,” said the king. “What do we have to do with the military for our students?”
Students joined companies and individuals whose plans were confused by tensions between the United States and China over technology and security, Beijing’s military buildup, the origin of the coronavirus, human rights, and conflicting claims against the South China Sea and other territories.
This policy blocks visas for the ruling Communist military sector, the PLA, or those who belong to universities that Washington considers to be part of a military modernization effort.
US officials say they believe that thousands of Chinese students and researchers are participating in programs that encourage the transfer of medical, computer, and other sensitive information to China.
Washington cites Beijing’s “military fusion” strategy, stating that it treats private companies and universities as assets to develop China’s military technology.
In a 2020 report, the State Department said, “Joint research institutes, academia, and private sector are all being abused to build the future military system of the People’s Liberation Army. Often without their knowledge or consent.” It states.
Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, shows nothing about what he could do.
Chinese officials have urged US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to lift visa restrictions when he visited in July, according to Shanghai’s online news The Paper.
The US Embassy in Beijing said in a statement that this policy was needed to “protect the US national security interests.”
According to the embassy, more than 85,000 visas for Chinese students have been approved in the last four months.
“The numbers clearly show that the United States is ready to issue visas to all qualified people, including Chinese students and scholars,” he said.
According to US government data, China is the largest source of international students in the United States. In 2020, it decreased by 20% from the previous year, but with 380,000 people, it was almost double that of India, which ranked second.
An engineer at a state-owned aircraft manufacturer said he was denied a visa to accompany his wife, a visiting scholar in California who is studying childhood cancer.
The engineer who gives only his name, Huang, holds an undergraduate and graduate degree from Harbin Institute of Technology in northeastern China. This is one of seven schools that are said to be related to visa denial because they belong to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, according to Chinese news reports.
“I was insulted,” Huang said. “Does my graduation from this school mean I’m a spy? What’s the difference between this and racism?”
Mr. Huang said his wife had been with him for a couple of years, but plans to shorten it to one year “at the expense of his career” so as not to be too far from his two children.
“When one country fights another, it has a significant impact on the individual,” Huang said.
The refusal letter received by some students quoted Trump’s orders but did not detail the decision. However, some students were rejected shortly after being asked which university to attend.
Wang, a financial student, said he had a visa, but the US embassy later called and said it had been revoked.
Wang graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology, another university related to visa denial because of his relationship with the Ministry of Industry. Others include Beijing Aerospace University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing Aeronautics and Astronautics University, Hajime Engineering University, and Northwest Institute of Technology.
A graduate of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications is also said to have been rejected.
Five Chinese scientists at universities in California and Indiana were charged last year for lying about possible military ties regarding visa applications. These accusations were dropped in July after the Justice Department said the FBI reported that such crimes were often unrelated to technology theft.
The Chinese government complained in August that three students with visas were denied entry to the United States at Houston Airport after photos of military training were found on their mobile phones.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing “strongly lamented and rejected” the policy and urged the US government to change it.
The group, which claims to represent more than 2,000 students and scholars, has announced plans for a proceeding seeking the court to lift or narrow the restrictions.
At Washington University in St. Louis, “a handful of student visas” were affected, according to Kurt Darks, vice president of international affairs.
Students can start the semester online or wait until next year, Dirks said in an email.
“If they continue to face challenges, the university will work with them to allow them to complete the program online,” Dirks said.
23-year-old Monica Ma said she was denied a US visa to earn a master’s degree in information management from Carnegie Mellon University.
A graduate of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications said he needed to attend classes directly at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh because he could no longer teach online after earning a one-year degree in Australia.
Ma said there was a job offer from an internet company and he needed to get a degree. She postponed attending the class until next year, hoping she could get a visa by then.
“I can’t change that with my own efforts. That’s the saddest part,” Ma said.
Li Quanyi, an electrical engineering student in southern Guiyang, said she was accepted by Columbia University but failed to obtain a visa. Li graduated from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.
Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University did not answer the questions sent by email.
Lee moved to Hong Kong and said he was happy there.
“If the rules change, I won’t go,” Lee said. “The United States rejected me, and I won’t go.”