Amid growing tensions between the United States and China over trade and alleged wrongdoing in the infancy of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Tom Cotton is proposing a bill that would deny student visas requested by Chinese nationals looking to conduct graduate or post-graduate studies in science, technology and engineering fields in the United States.
“The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States,” the junior senator from Arkansas said in a statement.
Sen. Cotton is joined by fellow senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in the push for the legislation. The pair are each co-sponsors of the proposed bill, which they are calling the SECURE CAMPUS Act.
“We’ve fed China’s innovation drought with American ingenuity and taxpayer dollars for too long; it’s time to secure the U.S. research enterprise against the CCP’s economic espionage,” Sen. Blackburn said in a statement of her own.
The news comes as recent reports surfaced that China was hacking the coronavirus research of American laboratories and universities, as reported by Newsweek in May.
Prior to Sen. Cotton’s statements related to this bill proposal, he has been an unabashed critic of China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, in March alleging that “China’s lies” helped spread the novel coronavirus.
For his remarks, China recently threatened to sanction him and other U.S. lawmakers who had been particularly critical of it in recent months.
Earlier this month, a UA professor was arrested on charges of wire fraud and a failure to disclose ties with the Chinese government.