China on Thursday slammed the US decision to revoke visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars deemed to be a “security risk.” 

Addressing a news briefing in the capital Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman termed the US move “serious violation of human rights of Chinese citizens.”

“The US decision to revoke visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars is a blatant political persecution and racial discrimination,” the state-run Global Times newspaper quoted Zhao Lijian as saying.

Chad Wolf, acting secretary for the US Department of Homeland Security, told a news conference on Wednesday that “we are blocking visas for certain Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to China’s military fusion strategy to prevent them from stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research.”

There were more than 360,000 Chinese students in the US during the 2018-2019 academic year, making up about one-third of international students, according to the Institute of International Education.

Hostilities between the world’s top economies have spread to multiple fronts, including trade, technology and academia, in recent years.

Censures Australia for ‘harboring journalists’

The spokesman also criticized Australia for “harboring” two journalists based in Beijing and Shanghai.

“Australian embassy’s harboring of journalists to avoid investigation has obstructed China’s law enforcement and interfered China’s internal affairs as well as judicial sovereignty,” Zhao said.

Two reporters working in China for Australian media flew home earlier this week after a diplomatic standoff.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Bill Birtles and Australian Financial Review’s Mike Smith were detained, questioned and barred from leaving the country in connection with a “national security case.”

The pair took refuge in Australia’s Beijing Embassy, and Shanghai consulate before leaving for Sydney.

The spokesperson also accused Canberra of harassing Chinese journalists, saying it “severely obstructed Chinese media’s reporting, and exposed hypocrisy of some Australians who claim to honor freedom of press.”

In June, Australian intelligence personnel raided a few Chinese journalists’ and professionals’ residences, questioned them, and seized their computers and phones.

The raids were reportedly in connection with “an unprecedented foreign interference investigation” into an “alleged plot by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate New South Wales Parliament.”

Tensions between the two countries have been running high after Australia joined its western allies in seeking a probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

It also suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong citing a lack of “trust and confidence” due to a new security law imposed by China in the semi-autonomous region.

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