Advancing Justice | AAJC Calls for Transparency After U.S. State Department Revokes Visas of Chinese Nationals

Civil rights group cautions against racial profiling of Chinese students and researchers
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of State revoked more than 1,000 visas of Chinese students and researchers since June 1, 2020, claiming they had ties to the Chinese military. The Trump Administration has accused China of using graduate students to steal intellectual property and technology from the U.S.

John C. Yang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC president and executive director, issues the following statement in response: 

“The move to revoke more than 1,000 visas of Chinese students and researchers is concerning, as it follows a series of racist statements made by public officials such as Senator Cotton, FBI Director Wray, and President Trump. We call for transparency from the government to provide further information and proof of their allegations. 

We caution the government against racial profiling that paints all Chinese students as spies. The government should be forthcoming with the criteria used to determine the students’ “national security risk” and to provide due process for students and scholars who have had their visas revoked. The Trump Administration is treating Chinese graduate students as spies not because of evidence of economic espionage, but rather a presumption that they can be ‘exploited or co-opted by the People’s Republic of China authorities.’ Racial profiling not only fails to protect our national security, but causes immeasurable harm to our student body and our academic enterprise. 

We understand there are real security concerns coming from China, but we caution against adopting a blanket approach to treat all or whole categories of Chinese students and scholars as ‘non-traditional collectors of intellectual property’ or spies. This approach essentially treats all students as spies solely based on their national origin or ethnicity. In reality, the vast majority of students and scholars come to the U.S. from China to study and work for a myriad of reasons. They invest their time, energy, and resources into building their lives here, building families, networks, and communities. Now, their reality is at any moment they may suddenly find their lives upended without a transparent, individual determination of alleged wrongdoing and without basic due process. 

This maneuvering fuels anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiment, creating an unwelcoming and dangerous environment for Asian Americans and immigrants living in the U.S.”