Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese nationals under a late May presidential proclamation targeting academics and students accused of having ties to China's military.
The State Department said in a statement that more than 1,000 "high-risk graduate students and researchers" from China have been expelled from the United States since June 1.
The expulsions were conducted under a May 29 presidential proclamation that accuses the People's Republic of China of being engaged in "a wide-ranging and heavily resourced campaign" to acquire sensitive U.S. technology and intellectual property to modernize and bolster its military, known as the People's Liberation Army.
"The PRC authorities use some Chinese students, mostly post-graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property," the proclamation reads. "Thus students or researchers from the PRC studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern."
Chad Wolfe, the acting director of Homeland Security, accused China on Wednesday in his 2020 State of the Homeland of exploiting U.S. academic institutions, explaining the Trump administration was blocking visas for specific Chinese graduate students and researchers "with ties to China's military fusion strategy" in order to prevent them from stealing sensitive research.
The State Department said those affected represent only a small fraction of Chinese nationals studying in the United State.
"We continue to welcome legitimate students and scholars from China who do not further the Chinese Communist Party's goals of military dominance," the federal agency said.
China rebuked the accusation in early June following the proclamation's announcement, calling it issued under "an abused concept of national security and flimsy excuses."
"Taking a backward step like that will only bring harm to oneself and others," said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman with China's foreign ministry, during a regular press briefing on June 2.
The announcement by the State Department follows recent high-profile arrests of Chinese researchers wanted for visa violations.
In July, authorities arrested a Chinese researcher who had sought refuge in Beijing's San Francisco consulate after being sought by police for failing to disclose her time served in the Chinese military.
The United States also forced Beijing to close its Houston consulate, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described as "a hub of spying and intellectual property theft." China responded by forcing the United States to close its consulate in southwestern Chengdu.