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Chinese STEM students harassed, repatriated by U.S. border officials


A file photo of travelers waiting to go through security at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S. /CFP
A file photo of travelers waiting to go through security at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S. /CFP

A file photo of travelers waiting to go through security at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S. /CFP

Four Chinese students who recently traveled to the United States to study and participate in academic conferences suffered from the U.S. side's unwarranted harassment, interrogation and repatriation, sources said.

All of them have scientific and technical backgrounds, and "two of them have research interests in artificial intelligence," sources familiar with the matter told China Daily under the condition of anonymity.

The officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection took the four Chinese individuals to a dark room for more than 10 hours of continuous interrogation and repeatedly questioned them in a baiting, coercive approach, the sources said.

The officers repeatedly questioned them about their personal and family information, their studies and internships in the U.S., whether they were members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and whether they had cooperated with the Chinese government.

Such officers "paid particular attention to political backgrounds such as CPC membership, and to scientific research backgrounds related to computers," the sources said.

In addition, in the absence of fact-based evidence and valid warrants, the U.S. side arbitrarily seized the electronic products of one of the Chinese individuals and repatriated the other three.

The U.S. side also refused to allow two of the individuals to contact their families and friends, causing one of them to be out of contact with the outside world for more than 30 hours, the sources said.

According to incomplete statistics, the U.S. side in recent years has conducted unwarranted harassment, interrogation and repatriation upon more than 30 Chinese students majoring in computer-related fields.

The vast majority of them are master's or doctoral degree candidates, more than half of them are PhD candidates, and most of them are with well-known universities in the U.S.

Their research interests cover fields such as artificial intelligence, information science, network security, electronics, software engineering and electronic information engineering.

"Mostly, these students were harassed and interrogated by the U.S. side for more than 10 hours upon entering the country, and the longest time of being held was even up to 5 days, and ultimately, without exception, their visas were cancelled and they were repatriated," the sources said.

The U.S. practices are "far beyond the realm of normal law enforcement, is strongly ideologically biased and is not aimed at maintaining the so-called 'national border security,'" they added.

The purpose of such an approach is to hold back China's scientific and technological development and maintain U.S. scientific and technological hegemony, which "fully reflects the hegemonic, bullying nature of the U.S. side, as well as its anxiety and lack of self-confidence in the realm of science and technology," the sources said.

The U.S. practices will only give rise to a serious "chilling effect" inside and outside the U.S., poison the public opinion environment for China-U.S. relations, and impede the mutual visits and exchange of talents between the two countries, they added.

In doing so, the U.S. will eventually damage its own international image and innovation vitality, and lead to a serious backfire, they said.

"Chinese students should assess the risk with great caution and think twice before going to the U.S. to study," the sources said.

Read more:

China urges U.S. to stop suppressing, restricting Chinese students

China urges U.S. to stop harassing Chinese citizens under pretext of national security

Source(s): China Daily
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