Politico Magazine cites two unnamed Trump administration officials as saying that the White House is mulling whether to curb US visas for Chinese nationals seeking to enroll in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses at American universities to counter a purported national security threat. The move is also aimed at mainland Chinese working at US government labs and in other sensitive posts.
Trump officials are also considering tighter controls on exports of certain goods or technologies that have dual military and civilian uses, according to Politico.
“The visa restrictions could hit Chinese students going to school in the United States, especially graduate students in science and technology programs, as well as other Chinese nationals working in sensitive jobs, such as at national laboratories,” Politico wrote. “But some administration officials have raised objections to the visa restrictions, and it’s unclear whether they’ll be included in the final package.”
The administration is also said to be worried about Chinese professionals and researchers obtaining sensitive technology information through collaboration with US counterparts.
Details about the possible US visa move were included in a March 13 Politico article headlined: “Trump demands aides pump up anti-China tariffs.”
The report follows escalating concern in the US about an alleged espionage threat posed by Chinese academics and students.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told a US Senate hearing on February 13 that Chinese “collectors” of intelligence are targeting US universities.
“The use of nontraditional collectors, especially in the academic setting — whether its professors, scientists, students — we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country,” Wray said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. “It’s not just in major cities; it’s in small ones, as well; it’s across basically every discipline.”
Asian American civic groups in the US have denounced Wray’s characterization of Chinese students and academics as potential espionage threats.