Chinese students whose visas were revoked by the US were persecuted for political reasons, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Beijing reserves the right to respond to the move.

The visa move by Washington amounts to “outright political persecution and racial discrimination” of Chinese students and a violation of their human rights, the ministry’s spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said.

The revocation of visas and other anti-Chinese steps by the US “run counter to its self-proclaimed openness and freedom,” he added. The spokesman urged Washington to “immediately stop its unreasonable restrictions and suppression of Chinese students.”

Beijing “reserves the right to make further reaction,” he added.

On Wednesday, the US blocked the visas of over 1,000 students over their alleged ties to the Chinese military, ostensibly in order to “prevent them from stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research.” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf insisted that Beijing is “abusing student visas to exploit American academia.”

There are around 370,000 Chinese nationals studying in American colleges and universities, which makes it the largest foreign student group in the US.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have been running high for months over a range of issues, including the US crackdown on Chinese telecom giant Huawei and popular video sharing app TikTok over spying allegations, as well as the American backing of independence movements in Hong Kong, and US relations with Taiwan.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!