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Tags: china | travel | coronavirus | washington free beacon | federal probe | fbi

Report: Feds Probing Suspected Chinese Spies' Return to US Ahead of COVID Travel Ban

Report: Feds Probing Suspected Chinese Spies' Return to US Ahead of COVID Travel Ban
(Getty)

By    |   Tuesday, 15 June 2021 03:00 PM EDT

An investigation is reportedly underway into why suspected Chinese spies returned to the United States on student and work visas at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Washington Free Beacon, citing internal government documents, reported Tuesday that hundreds of Chinese nationals are being investigated after law enforcement officials flagged their travel in January 2020.

Their return was earlier than expected, and followed earlier modifications on travel plans, according to the news outlet. Then-president Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting entry for non-citizens and residents of China on Jan. 31, 2020.

But the internal document seems to suggest that Chinese Communist Party officials deliberately obscured the origins and severity of COVID-19 while secretly taking precautions for themselves.

The news outlet reported the episode was recounted in an internal report circulated June 3 among national security and law enforcement agencies — and surmises the Chinese students returned earlier to avoid future COVID travel restrictions.

The United States recorded its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 21, 2020 — the same day a Chinese scientist said the virus could spread person to person, the Free Beacon noted.

"The team examined 58,000 inbound Chinese F/J visa holders in the [Passenger Name Record] database and identified 396 individuals whose return travel was [scheduled] after January 2020 but had returned in January 2020," the report reads.

Intelligence officials haven’t concluded whether the hundreds of monitored students were confirmed spies, the Free Beacon reported.

But students' modified travel suggests many Chinese nationals were aware of the severity of COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency Jan. 31, 2020, eight days after China ordered a quarantine for the entire city of Wuhan.

One education watchdog group believes the internal document underscores the national security risk from a lax student visa system.

"The Chinese government relies on nontraditional collectors of information as an important piece of its espionage efforts. Academia is not immune," Rachelle Peterson, a senior research fellow at the National Institution of Scholars, told the Free Beacon.

"Cutting-edge research, technological inventions, and other forms of intellectual property are key targets for the Chinese government, which has sought to create in its foreign-based citizens a sense of obligation to bring back something of use for the Chinese Communist Party."

According to the Free Beacon, some 30% of all foreign students in the country come from China — totaling about 340,000 people. In September 2020, the United States canceled more than 1,000 student and research visas for Chinese students, claiming the recipients had ties to the Chinese military.

The National Institutes of Health opened an ongoing investigation into recipients of its research grants in 2019, the Free Beacon reported, noting that on June 14, 2020, at least 54 scientists who received NIH grants were fired for failure to disclose their ties to foreign governments, particularly China.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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An investigation is reportedly underway into why suspected Chinese spies returned to the United States on student and work visas at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
china, travel, coronavirus, washington free beacon, federal probe, fbi
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2021-00-15
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 03:00 PM
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