China rips US visa restrictions on students as ‘political persecution and racial discrimination’

China’s foreign ministry on Thursday condemned the Trump administration’s decision to revoke visas for hundreds of Chinese graduate students over fears of intellectual property theft.

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the Trump administration of practicing “outright political persecution and racial discrimination” one day after the State Department announced that it had revoked visas of more than 1,000 Chinese nationals, according to The Associated Press.

The move infringes upon “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students studying in the U.S.,” Zhao contended.

“It is outright political persecution and racial discrimination, and seriously violated the human rights of Chinese students studying there,” he continued. “China reserves the right to make further responses to this matter.”

The State Department said on Wednesday that the hundreds of students affected by an order signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: I feel ‘deep down fury’ that Trump downplayed pandemic NYT reporter removed from Trump rally in Michigan Trump says he didn’t share classified information following Woodward book MORE were “high-risk graduate students and research scholars” who “represent a small subset of the total number of Chinese students and scholars coming to the United States.”

“We continue to welcome legitimate students and scholars from China who do not further the Chinese Communist Party’s goals of military dominance,” the State Department said.

The department’s announcement follows numerous high-profile incidents of Chinese nationals being accused of espionage on U.S. soil. In late July, the U.S. seized the Chinese consulate in Houston over similar allegations.

At the time, China’s government accused the U.S. of having “seriously breached international law” and responded by closing a U.S. consulate within the country.

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