Beijing has criticized the United States for interrogating tens of Chinese students per month at American airports since November. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that at least eight Chinese students had been deported groundlessly by US immigration authorities at the Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. He argued that the US’s actions violated the legitimate rights and interests of the students and disrupted China-US cultural exchanges and cross-border travel.
Wang also criticized the US for politicizing and weaponizing academic research, over-extending the concept of national security to suppress and ill-treat Chinese students. He argued that the US’s moves, driven by ideological bias and political motivation, would eventually undermine America’s own image. Xie Feng, Chinese ambassador to the US, stated that blocking Chinese students from entering the US will hurt Sino-US relations. He stated that tens of Chinese students, who hold valid visas and have no criminal records, have been denied entry to the US monthly. The students were taken to a small dark room and interrogated by officers for up to eight hours.
The US’s “China Initiative” program, launched in 2018, aimed to prosecute perceived Chinese spies in American research and industry. In February 2022, the US Department of Justice announced the end of the program, accused of racially profiling Chinese American citizens and other residents of Chinese origin or ancestry.
The Chinese Embassy in the US stated that Chinese students who were interrogated by officers at the Dulles International Airport were also checked, and some were restricted from personal freedom for over 10 hours and prohibited from contacting the outside world. The Chinese Embassy strongly urges the US to stop its wrong practices.
Chinese columnist Mei Zhengqing claims that the US lacks confidence in itself as it discriminates against and persecutes Chinese students and scholars by denying their entry to the country. The US is losing international support due to its hegemonic practice against China, as it treats all things, including Chinese students, as its enemy. The US’s chilling effect on Chinese students and scholars remains a concern.
Chinese students and scholars have been caught spying for the Chinese government in the US, with some facing false accusations. In January, Ji Chaoqun, a 31-year-old electrical engineering graduate student, was convicted of acting as an agent of China’s Ministry of State Security and making a material false statement to the US Army. Professor Xi Xiaoxing, a professor at Temple University, said he would sue the Federal Bureau of Investigation for falsely accusing him of spying for China.
Public data showed that about 290,000 Chinese students were in the US last year, representing 27% of foreign students. Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden welcomed strengthening people-to-people exchanges between students, scholars, and businesses. In their last meeting in San Francisco, the two leaders reiterated the same goal, aiming to invite 50,000 American young people to study in China in the next five years.