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US Denies Visas to Some Chinese Students

Monica Ma poses for a photo along the coast of Qinhuangdao in northern China's Hebei province. Ma is among at least 500 students the Chinese government says have been rejected under a policy, aimed at blocking Beijing from obtaining U.S. technology. (Monica Ma via AP)
Monica Ma poses for a photo along the coast of Qinhuangdao in northern China's Hebei province. Ma is among at least 500 students the Chinese government says have been rejected under a policy, aimed at blocking Beijing from obtaining U.S. technology. (Monica Ma via AP)
US Denies Visas to Some Chinese Students
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The U.S. government may have rejected visas for about 500 Chinese students this school year because of a policy from the administration of President Donald Trump.

The policy is supposed to prevent Chinese students from stealing American technology and giving it to the Chinese military.

Wang Ziwei is a 23-year-old finance student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Wang was hoping to come back to school in America after attending video classes at home in China. However, he said the U.S. Embassy took away his student visa this year.

“The whole thing is nonsense,” Wang said. “What do we finance students have to do with the military?” he asked.

The students are not the only ones who say they are affected. Businesses and other individuals say the policy affects their plans.

The policy is supposed to keep people who are connected to the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army or universities that work on military projects from coming to the United States.

U.S. officials say thousands of students and researchers are connected with Chinese government programs. These programs ask students to take medical, computer and other technical information to China.

Concerns over Chinese military ties

A 2020 report from the U.S. State Department said the Chinese government “exploits” private businesses, researchers and students so it can build its military.

The State Department said the Chinese government has a plan for “civil-military fusion.” That means it treats private businesses and universities as partners that will help China develop new technologies.

Chinese officials asked Wendy Sherman, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, to drop the visa restrictions when she visited in July. President Joe Biden has not talked about the problem.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing told the Associated Press that the policy is necessary to “protect U.S. national security interests.”

It also noted, that although there are 500 students who are upset, the U.S. did approve 85,000 others. The Embassy added “the United States stands ready to issue visas to all those who are qualified.”

Huang, who would only give his family name, said he was denied a visa when he wanted to go with his wife to California, where she is studying childhood cancer. He is an engineer with a company that makes aircraft in China.

Chinese news reports said people like Huang are denied because they went to Chinese schools connected with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“I was insulted,” Huang said.

Huang said his wife was supposed to study in California for three years, but she will reduce her trip to one year because she cannot be away from her family for so long.

The U.S. also sent three students home to China in August after they arrived at the Houston airport. Agents found military training photos on their phones.

A foreign ministry spokesperson said the Chinese government “deplores and rejects” the U.S. policy. Lawyers who say they are working with a group of 2,000 students said they plan to ask the U.S. to remove the restrictions or change them so more students can come.

Before studying in St. Louis, Wang Ziwei graduated from the Beijing Institute of Technology, another university whose students are being rejected.

There are a number of other Chinese universities whose graduates said the U.S. is blocking them. Many said they cannot continue their studies without coming to the U.S. this year because their classes are no longer available online.

Policy affects few students

Kurt Dirks is an administrator at Washington University. He said the policy affected only a few students. He said they can start school using their computer or wait to come to school next year. He said the university will help them keep up with their studies.

Monica Ma is a 23-year-old information management student from China. She spent a year studying in Australia after completing her studies at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. She is supposed to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania right now. But the U.S. rejected her visa request.

She has a job offer but cannot accept until she completes her degree. She said she will wait until next year. Maybe, she said, she will get a visa then.

Another student, Li Quanyi, is supposed to be in New York City at Columbia University. Li is now in Hong Kong.

He said he will not come to the U.S., even if the rule changes.

“The United States rejected me, and I am not going.”

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report from the Associated Press. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

nonsense –adj. words or ideas that are foolish or untrue

exploit –v. to use something or someone in a way that unfairly helps you

deplore –n. to hate or dislike very much; strongly disapprove of

graduate –n. a person who has completed a plan of college study and has received their document showing what they have done

degree –n. an official document given to someone who has successfully completed a series of classes at a college or university