FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Arnold or Mary Collins Atkinson (202) 224-2353
June 17, 2021 

Cotton, Colleagues, Introduce Legislation to Restrict Chinese Access to American Visas

Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) introduced the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Visa Security Act, legislation to prohibit individuals currently or previously employed or sponsored by Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States. This bill would also establish a list of research institutions affiliated with the PLA and mandate that the State Department conduct background checks on Chinese nationals applying for research visas in the United States. Bill text may be found here.

“Allowing members of the People’s Liberation Army unfettered access to research visas is an open invitation to steal American research, ingenuity, and intellectual property. The United States shouldn’t be arming our greatest adversary—our bill will block Chinese military affiliated people from receiving student and research visas to the United States,” said Cotton.

“The Chinese Communist Party exploits our visa system to infiltrate American institutions at every level. The People’s Liberation Army systematically sends Chinese engineers and scientists abroad to exploit research projects to access sensitive data and technology. The PLA Visa Security Act provides an additional screening layer to ensure applicants are not affiliated with the Chinese military. I am proud to again join Sen. Cotton on this important bill,” said Cruz.

“COVID-19 has made it clear just how vulnerable we are to the global threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rubio. “We must ensure that individuals linked to the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army are not able to obtain research and student visas, which enable the theft of American technology. It is in our national security interest to ensure the CCP isn’t taking advantage of our open system to steal American intellectual property.”

“American innovation and ingenuity are our nation’s greatest assets and the envy of adversaries around the globe including China,” said Tuberville. “Without a hardline approach to safeguard our research, Chinese military institutions will continue to steal our intellectual property for their own benefit. Restricting Chinese military institution’s access to American visas ensures our innovation and research cannot be used against us.”

“The Chinese Communist Party exploits the student visa system to build its military on the backs of American research and ingenuity. Our universities and tech companies have become targets of Chinese espionage and intellectual property theft. We must secure American research and development against the Chinese Communist Party and their military,” said Hawley.

“We’ve seen time and again how the communist Chinese government has sought to infiltrate and exploit U.S. research and academic institutions. This bill ensures that visa applicants are thoroughly vetted and Chinese nationals affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army aren’t granted access to our most sensitive research and intellectual property,” said Grassley.

“The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t play by the rules, and there is a serious risk to American national security and our intellectual property by allowing those who are currently or have previously been involved with Chinese military institutions to study in the United States. I’m proud to join Senator Cotton to stop the U.S. from arming China’s People’s Liberation Army with American innovation,” said Braun.

In a recent think tank report, the PLA Visa Security Act was endorsed by President Biden’s current NSC Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness Peter Harrell, NSC Senior Director for China Rush Doshi, nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Indo-Pacific Ely Ratner, and nominee to serve as DoD Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Susanna Blume, and nominee to serve as Assistance Secretary for Terrorist Financing Elizabeth Rosenberg.

Background:

  • Senator Cotton advocated for a similar provision in his recently released report, “Beat China: Target Decoupling and the Economic Long War.”

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