U.S. Limits the PLA’s Ability to Use Visa Programs to Illicitly Acquire U.S. Technologies and Intellectual Property

June 1, 2020

U.S. Limits the People’s Liberation Army’s Ability to Use Nonimmigrant Visa Programs to Illicitly Acquire U.S. Technologies and Intellectual Property

On May 29 President Trump issued a proclamation that limits the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) ability to misuse nonimmigrant student and researcher visa programs. The Trump Administration is committed to achieving a fair and reciprocal relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and also continues to value the important contributions of international students and researchers, including from China.  However, the Administration is also committed to protecting our national and economic security. We will not tolerate PRC attempts to illicitly acquire American technology and intellectual property from our academic institution and research facilities for Chinese military ends.   

The President’s proclamation suspends the entry into the United States of any People’s Republic of China national seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States, except for a student seeking to pursue undergraduate study, where the individual’s academic or research activities are likely to support a PRC entity that implements and supports the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “military-civil fusion” strategy.  Our actions last Friday are a direct consequence of PRC government strategies and policies that exploit the access of some of China’s brightest graduate students and researchers, in targeted fields, to divert and steal sensitive technologies and intellectual property from U.S. institutions, taking undue advantage of our open and collaborative academic and research environment.  This action will help safeguard U.S. national and economic security interests and the productivity and security of the U.S. research enterprise. 

Our concern is with the malign actions of the Chinese Communist Party and specific individuals, not with the Chinese people.  The graduate students and researchers who are targeted, co-opted, and exploited by the PRC government for its military gain represent a small subset of Chinese student and researcher visa applicants coming to the United States.  We expect this new visa policy will contribute to an improved, open, and transparent environment in which U.S. and Chinese scholars can engage with greater trust. At the same time, the United States will continue do everything in its power to safeguard U.S. technology and institutions, and to ensure our national and economic security remain safe and free from foreign interference.