The national flags of China and the United States. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
China urged the United States on Monday to correct its mistakes and stop using various excuses to restrict and suppress Chinese students, saying that China will continue to support the students' efforts to defend their legitimate and lawful rights and interests.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin made the remark after three Chinese students with valid visas were cross-examined at the airport in Houston and then repatriated on Aug 15 as being detrimental to US national security.
It was the latest of a series of measures carried out by Washington against Chinese students, varying from the denial of visa applications to wanton harassment and interrogation.
"We have lodged solemn representations with the US side," he said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
According to Wang, the three students are suspected of having connections with the Chinese military because they received funding from the Chinese government or photos of them undergoing military training－a regular program for first-year students in Chinese universities－were found in their cellphones.
Wang said that the US practice of using concocted and even absurd excuses to repatriate Chinese students seriously violated the lawful rights and interests of the students, and gravely undermined normal people-to-people exchanges and educational cooperation between the two countries.
"Such a discriminatory practice against students from a certain country totally contravenes the concept of openness and freedom as claimed by the US. It also goes against the trend of the times for international talent exchange," the spokesman said.
Recently, more than 500 Chinese students who had received offers to pursue postgraduate studies as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors at US universities were denied visas by the US government due to Presidential Proclamation 10043, issued last year by then US president Donald Trump.
As of Monday, a joint letter condemning these measures and calling for ending the racist exclusion of Chinese students from US higher education had been signed by 1,143 students.