[Editorial Analysis] On U.S. revoking visa to Chinese students

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: H-1B Visa
Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

Context:

• The Trump administration has revoked visas for more than 1,000 Chinese citizens, mainly students and researchers, deemed to be risks to national security owing to their alleged connections to Chinese military establishments and concern over industrial espionage.

Policy action:

• The White House’s latest policy action has been housed under Mr. Trump’s May 29 announcement responding to China’s curbs on democracy in Hong Kong.

• Among the reasons stated was the intention to block the entry of persons associated with slave labour, thought to be a reference to alleged rights violations of China’s Uighur Muslims.

• According to the Department of Homeland Security, the revocation is also targeting those who might engage in unjust business practices or attempt to steal coronavirus research, and, more broadly, abuse their student visa status to exploit the intellectual property of academia.

• This visa policy comes after measures that have tightened the screws on the U.S. immigration system, including halting the issuance of green cards and skilled worker visas and challenging the issuance of student visas for college programmes that have migrated entirely to online mode due to the pandemic.

• However, in the prior cases of visa issuance bans, the nationals of a single country were not targeted in the way that Chinese citizens have been under this week’s visa revocation.

Hostile tit-for-tat exchanges:

• The deeper context of this spat is the cycle of hostile tit-for-tat exchanges between Washington and Beijing, principally tariff wars in the realm of trade, but extending to human rights and China’s COVID-19 response.

• On the one hand the Trump administration might have overreached in this broad-brush policy, perhaps sweeping up innocent researchers with no more than nominal association with a government-affiliated academic entity in China.

• However, it is more than likely, given the successive industrial espionage incidents that have been prosecuted by the U.S., that potential spies or saboteurs are facing removal proceedings too. Ultimately, countries such as China and Russia, which have arguably sought to interfere in the U.S.’s domestic affairs, could be facing a blowback.

• However, given the pressure-cooker conditions in U.S. politics due to an imminent election, there is a strong likelihood of a heavy-handed response to any further suspicions of foreign interference, especially because such a response would be of considerable campaign value to the incumbent.

• If Mr. Trump remains in the Oval Office, he will doubtless persist with his friendly approach toward Moscow, while seeking to keep Beijing on the back foot.

• The policies of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, are expected to be the reverse to an extent, although Chinese President Xi Jinping would be unwise to anticipate a quick thaw in frosty bilateral ties in that case too.

• Either way, China’s economic aggression will continue to face pushback from a wounded and angry America.

Conclusion:

• Chinese students are caught in a broad-brush U.S. response to espionage

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the force majeure clause (FMC), consider the following statements:

1. A force majeure clause (FMC) is one such exception that releases the party of its obligations to an extent when events beyond their control take place and leave them unable to perform their part of the contract.

2. The Indian Contract Act, 1872 provides that a contract becomes void if it becomes impossible due to an event after the contract was signed that the party could not prevent.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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