A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the US embassy in Beijing on Sep 6, 2021. AP
After a semester online, Wang Ziwei looked forward to meeting classmates who are returning to campus at Washington University in St Louis. But the 23-year-old finance student said the US revoked his student visa on security grounds.
Wang is among at least 500 students the Chinese government says have been rejected under a policy issued by then-President Donald Trump to block Beijing from obtaining US technology with possible military uses. Students argue it is applied too broadly and fume at what they say is an accusation they are spies.
"The whole thing is nonsense," Wang said. "What do we finance students have to do with the military?"
The students join companies and individuals whose plans have been disrupted by US-Chinese tension over technology and security, Beijing's military buildup, the origins of the corona virus, human rights and conflicting claims to the South China Sea and other territory.
The policy blocks visas for people who are affiliated with the ruling Communist Party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army, or universities deemed by Washington to be part of military modernization efforts. US officials say they believe thousands of Chinese students and researchers participate in programs that encourage them to transfer medical, computer and other sensitive information to China.
Washington cites Beijing's strategy of "civil-military fusion", which it says treats private companies and universities as assets to develop Chinese military technology."Joint research institutions, academia and private firms are all being exploited to build the PLA's future military systems - often without their knowledge or consent," the State Department said in a 2020 report. Trump's successor, Joe Biden, has given no indication of what he might do.