Chinese Embassy lashes out at US over harassing Chinese citizens at border
Published: Apr 09, 2024 11:28 PM
Graduate students from China attend the Columbia University Commencement ceremony in New York, the United States, May 22, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

Graduate students from China attend the Columbia University Commencement ceremony in New York, the United States, May 22, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

The Chinese Embassy in the US lashed out at the US for overstretching the scope of normal law enforcement after a number of Chinese citizens have been subject to hours of interrogation in a "small black room" when entering or leaving the US. 

Observers reached by the Global Times said that the duplicitous nature of Biden administration will stoke up distrust, further foster hostility among the people of the two countries and derail the commitment of the two leaders to advance bilateral relations. They urged the US to heed the "kind reminder" from China and alter their operational behavior to avoid irreversible harm to people-to-people exchanges.

Quoting data, a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the US said in a statement that nearly 300 Chinese citizens have been deported by the US since July 2021, including more than 70 Chinese students with legal and valid materials. Since November 2023, at Washington Dulles Airport alone, there have been 10 cases of Chinese students being harassed, interrogated and, after having their visas canceled, deported.

The spokesperson listed two cases of Chinese scholars with legal visas being harassed during their entry to the US border, each of them being interrogated for an exceptionally long 10 hours and being detained for 22 hours respectively. After these abnormal interrogations in the "small black room, both were deported after their visas were canceled.  

The embassy spokesperson slammed acts by the US as far exceeding the scope of normal law enforcement and driven by strong ideological bias, saying they gravely infringe on the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of persons concerned and disturb normal cross-border travel between China and the US. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Monday also slammed the US for overstretching the concept of national security, arbitrarily revoking visas, restricting entry, and forcibly deporting Chinese students without concrete evidence, causing great harm to the individuals involved and creating obstacles for cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the US.

US border control personnel have continuously and unjustifiably harassed, interrogated and deported Chinese nationals entering the US, at a time when the two Presidents reiterated the need to take further steps to expand people-to-people exchanges between the two countries on April 2. 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that despite the agreement between the two heads of state to promote people-to-people exchanges at their meeting in San Francisco last November and the recent phone call reaffirming stable ties, there is still a lack of visible restraint from the US in the actions it is taking. "It indicates a duplicitous nature within the Biden administration," Lü noted. 

In the statement, the spokesperson slammed that the US' actions run against the common understandings reached by the two Presidents on enhancing and facilitating China-US cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

China is gravely concerned and firmly opposes such moves, and has made solemn démarches to the US, the spokesperson said.

Dealing with duplicities in US policies may be an unavoidable, long-term reality for China, Lü further explained.

Observers view the statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in the US on Tuesday as a "kind reminder" to the US, and said that hopefully the US will alter its unjustifiable harassment and interrogation of Chinese citizens, and will not further undermine the environment of public support for China-US relations.

As a veteran Chinese scholar on American studies, Lü noted a decreasing willingness among Chinese researchers to visit the US due to concerns about potential interrogation and deportation. Many have the mindset of "It's better to save trouble." 

Lü emphasized that cultural and people-to-people exchanges are the "fundamental logic" for enhancing relations between the two countries. If there is hostility among the people of both nations, how can the commitment of the two leaders to advance bilateral relations in a stable, sound and sustainable manner be achieved?

In recent years, a growing trend emerged as more and more Chinese students majoring in STEM subjects were taken to "small black room" during their entry to the US, the Global Times learnt. 

A netizen who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday when she visited the US at the end of 2023 for vacation, she was questioned at customs. The questions were way much too detailed, from the source of her income during the work-leave to financial support for travel expenses. 

A postdoc with a J1-visa also shared her experience, claiming that when she entered Washington DC customs in late March this year, she encountered unfair treatment.

She was assigned to a separate line and each person in the line was questioned for a long time. When it came to her turn, she was taken directly to "small black room" after being fingerprinted. 

The postdoc advised students in STEM majors to avoid entering US at Washington, DC, if at all possible.