“Actively hostile powers” and “global competitors” of the U.S., as well as the Chinese regime, are exploiting international student visa policies with the aim of conduct industrial and military espionage, said Dan Cadman, as quoted by The Epoch Times. Cadman is a member of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
He also emphasized that this issue is “a weak point in U.S. national security,” noting that it creates an environment easy for spies to maneuver in, or “as Mao Zedong once said, a sea in which fishes can swim.”
“Although Mao was speaking about guerrillas among the people, it’s equally true that foreign student and exchange scholar populations, by virtue of their size, their diversity, and the openness of the campus environments, act as a perfect place in which people who are engaged in espionage or people who are of mal-intent can conceal themselves without any real serious possibility that they’re going to be detected, at least not until in the fullness of time,” he said.
He explained that such weakness was due to two major reasons. First, he noted that many institutions of higher learning recognize “the monetary benefits of accepting foreign students whose governments often pay their fees.”
The second is the lack of control “over the number, place of origin, or courses and research studies of foreign students and exchange scholars,” and many governments “use the U.S. foreign student and scholar programs as opportunities to engage in spying and theft of important defense and trade secrets, as well as cutting-edge technological advances,” to save time and money on research.
For many nations—China is a good example—espionage is a “family affair” and it encourages all of its students and scholars to bring important information home whenever the opportunity presents itself, Cadman said.
He specified that during the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the International Institute for Education (IIE), there were 363,341 Chinese students, which represents an increase of 3.6% over the 2016-2017 academic year, well above the second group of foreign students, the Saudis with 44,432, which was a decrease of 15.5% over the previous year.
Unlimited residence permit
In addition, temporary visitors obtain visas for 90 days or six months, while foreign students and researchers can stay for six to eight years in the country.
“The overwhelming number of counterintelligence cases in our country now involve Chinese nationals,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner told an audience at the Council for Foreign Relations in Washington, according to VOA.
Warner denounced that the Chinese government even make threats if students refuse to spy. “The Chinese spy services are literally threatening Chinese families,” he said.
“If your son or daughter does not come back [from the US] and come back with intellectual property, you the family will be put in jeopardy,” he said in an effort to unmask the “societal approach” plan he believes has been set in motion by Chinese intelligence.
He also warned of Confucius Institutes that were established at universities across the United States under the pretext of promoting education in Chinese language and culture, but that many academic officials are beginning to see as “nothing but agents of Chinese services to spy on Chinese students and hold them accountable.”