China warns students after reports of harassment at Washington airport

The Chinese embassy in the United States on Monday warned Chinese students to not enter the US through the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) stating that several students faced harassment and interrogations and were denied entry despite having all the required documents. China also lodged a solemn representation to the US.

The Embassy said it held great significance in protecting the welfare of Chinese students abroad. (Reuters/File)

The embassy said the citizens involved in the investigations included those who held valid documents and were either returning to the US after vacationing in China, travelling to the US, attending a conference in the US or arriving in the US for their first semester.

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A release by the Chinese embassy stated that the citizens were subjected to interrogation, their electronic devices were inspected and some people were even isolated for around 10 hours and prohibited from speaking with anyone.

The embassy said it held great significance in protecting the welfare of Chinese students abroad.

It added that Chinese students faced unwarranted interrogations and even deportation because of the US on several occasions leading to the undermining of the rights and interests of Chinese citizens. Along with that, the Chinese Embassy said that such actions were countering the consensus reached between China and the US during a recent meeting in San Francisco where people-to-people exchanges were encouraged.

The Global Times quoted the Embassy as saying, “We strongly urge the US side to end these unfair practices, cease unwarranted harassment, interrogations, and deportations of Chinese students, and effectively implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state to support China-US people-to-people exchanges and encourage the expansion of the scale of Chinese students studying in the US.”

The embassy said that the citizens who were planning to go to the US should not enter the country through the Washington Dulles International Airport. It urged the students to remain calm in case of being stopped by US border law enforcement personnel. It further added that if Chinese citizens were treated unfairly, they should document evidence and file a complaint with relevant authorities.

China’s ambassador Xie Feng said on Sunday, as per a press release, “Dozens of Chinese arriving in the United States, including students, were denied entry every month for the past few months. They held valid visas, had no criminal records, and were returning to school after travelling elsewhere or reuniting with their family in China. But when they landed at the airport, what awaited them was 8-hour-long interrogation by officers, who prohibited them from contacting their parents, made groundless accusations against them, and even forcibly repatriated them and banned their entry. This is absolutely unacceptable. The Chinese side immediately expressed its firm opposition to the US side. We will continue to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

He added, “Politicising and manipulating educational cooperation will not only prevent students from chasing their dreams and force them to change their life plans, but also drain the talent pool of the United States, poison its research environment and chill innovation. If normal people-to-people exchanges are cut off, how can the two major countries maintain and develop their relations?”

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