US lines up sanctions, expulsions to punish China

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WASHINGTON: Expulsion of Chinese students and researchers from American universities and sanctions against Chinese officials are among the steps being considered by the Trump administration as Washington ties with Beijing continue to slide downhill. The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has now crossed the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost.
“All over the world the CoronaVirus, a very bad “gift” from China, marches on. Not good!” US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday as US lawmakers voted 413-1 to send him a legislation that if he signs could result in sanctions against Chinese officials for the detention and torture of Uighur Muslims in the country’s western region of Xinjiang.

Separately, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo reiterated US support for anti-government protestors in Hong Kong and said state department no longer viewed the territory as autonomous, a move that could result in revocation of special US economic and legal privileges granted to the territory. The move could also result in Hong Kong losing its status as a financial hub, and have profound impact on the global economy, cleaving the world into spheres of Chinese control and US influence.
Elsewhere, the academic world is also in ferment with reports that Washington plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army. More than 400,000 Chinese students are currently studying in the US – the largest foreign student contingent – and they are seen in some quarters as the bedrock of STEM studies, both in terms of tuition money and research output.
US spooks have already been briefing key institutions about the potential national security threats posed by Chinese students in critical STEM areas. Republican hardliners are also campaigning for Chinese-origin academics and teachers to be monitored and expelled amid continuing anger against Beijing for what the Trump administration sees as deception and subterfuge in the matter of exporting the coronavirus.
Trump himself has been put on the defensive for not acting early enough on the matter, with allegations ranging from his “credulous certification” between January and March praising China’s actions to control the pandemic, to charges that he allowed American stock of personal protection equipment (ppe) to be expropriated by Beijing, leaving the US without protection.
Panned for not caring about the more than 100,000 people who have died from Covid-19 related illnesses because he has stopped talking about it, the President, who insists the toll would have been more than a million if he had not acted, finally rolled out a regretful tweet on Thursday.
“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!” he wrote.





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