China warns students, academics to consider risks of studying in U.S.

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By Reuters  with NBC News World News
Image: Students attend their college graduation ceremony at Fudan Universit
Students attend a graduation ceremony at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.   -   Copyright  Carlos Barria

BEIJING — China warned students and academics on Monday about risks involved in studying in the United States amid a bitter trade war and other tensions between the two countries.

The Ministry of Education said that recently some students seeking to study in the U.S. had encountered problems with the duration of their visas being limited and an increase in visa refusals.

"This has affected Chinese students going to study in the United States or smoothly completing their studies," it added. "The education ministry reminds students and academics of the need to strengthen risk assessment before studying abroad, enhance prevention awareness, and make corresponding preparations."

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However, state television cited ministry spokeswoman Xu Mei as saying despite the trade tensions, the "general situation" for Chinese students going to the United States remained stable, and U.S. institutes of higher education welcomed Chinese students and cooperation with China.

The ministry declined to offer any other details when contacted by Reuters.

At stake is about $14 billion of economic activity, most of it tuition and other fees generated annually from the 360,000 Chinese nationals who study in the United States.

Last year, China's embassy in Washington issued a security advisory to Chinese nationals traveling to the United States, warning tourists to be aware of issues including expensive medical bills, the threat of public shootings and robberies, and searches and seizures by customs agents.

A group of President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress introduced legislation last month intended to prohibit anyone employed or sponsored by the Chinese military from receiving student or research visas to the United States.

The bill would require the U.S. government to create a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with China's People's Liberation Army, and prohibit anyone employed or sponsored by those institutions from receiving the visas.

The move comes as some U.S. officials have expressed concern about the possibility of the theft of intellectual property or even espionage by Chinese nationals at U.S. universities and other institutions.