President Trump is weighing restricting Chinese students from studying in the U.S., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview Monday, adding that the administration is likely to announce new actions against Beijing in the coming weeks and months.
The secretary made his remarks during an interview with WMAL's "Mornings On The Mall" radio show hosted by Vince Coglianese and Mary Walter. He was responding to a question over the administration’s efforts to crack down on Chinese nationals on student visas and in academic research positions charged with spying for the government in Beijing.
"I don’t want to get in front of decisions that the president is evaluating," Pompeo said when asked if it would be "quicker" to just not let any more Chinese students come into the United States for some period of time.
"Look, not every Chinese student who is here is working on behalf of or at the behest of, the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, but it’s something President Trump has taken a serious, serious look at," Pompeo responded.
“I think you’ll see more to follow in the coming weeks and months,” the secretary said.
A Chinese national conducting research at the University of Virginia was arrested on Friday on federal charges that included an attempt to steal trade secrets and computer intrusion.
That arrest is the latest example of an increasing number of cases brought forth by federal law enforcement against Chinese nationals allegedly exploiting their positions in academia to commit economic espionage against the U.S.
In May, The New York Times reported that Trump was weighing canceling visas for thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers coming from Chinese universities that have ties to the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military.
Restrictions on Chinese students and researchers would be a blow to American universities, as the students represent one of the largest groups of international students paying to study in the United States. Their tuition payments are seen as bolstering programs in key areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Additional restrictions or a ban on Chinese students likely would also trigger retaliatory measures from Beijing and further harm U.S.-Sino relations, which are already at a low point.
The two nations have taken retaliatory measures on multiple fronts related to diplomacy, trade, media access, human rights, the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea and its passage of a national security law over Hong Kong.
Trump has also made China a key election issue and has touted his administration’s policies as being tough on Beijing while attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying his election would be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.