Chinese students hoping to attend classes in the U.S. may face more thorough background checks and various restrictions due to mounting worry over espionage.
The U.S. State Department already drastically shortened the length of visas from one year to five for all Chinese graduate students studying aviation, robotics and/or advanced manufacturing. Officials justified that the measures reduced the risk of spying and protected against the theft of intellectual property.
Yet the Trump administration is contemplating adding additional checks and requirements. This could include checking student phone records and social media accounts on both U.S. and Chinese platforms for anything that could indicate ill intent.
Academic officials would be given additional government-level training on methods to detect spying and cyber theft.
“Every Chinese student who China sends here has to go through a party and government approval process,” one senior U.S. official told Reuters. “You may not be here for espionage purposes as traditionally defined, but no Chinese student who’s coming here is untethered from the state.”
Meanwhile the Chinese government balks at the claims and continuously maintains that Washington is exaggerating the problem for political reasons.
Ambassador Cui Tiankai responded, “Why should anybody accuse them as spies? I think that this is extremely unfair for them.”
However FBI Director Christopher Wray informed a Senate hearing earlier in the year that agents across the country were seeing “non-traditional collectors (of intelligence), especially in the academic setting.”