US cancels China-funded exchange programs, saying they are ‘propaganda tools’

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The US Department of State on Friday terminated five exchange programs with China that the US says were “propaganda tools” disguised as “cultural exchanges.”

America’s universities have become a soft target for espionage carried out by China, intelligence officials have said over the last couple years. A few professors and students at top-ranking US universities have been charged and convicted of spying for China.

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The five programs that were terminated were fully funded and operated by the Chinese government as “soft power propaganda tools,” a State Department statement from December 4 read.

“They provide carefully curated access to Chinese Communist Party officials, not to the Chinese people, who do not enjoy freedoms of speech and assembly. The United States welcomes the reciprocal and fair exchange of cultural programs with [People’s Republic of China] officials and the Chinese people, but one-way programs such as these are not mutually beneficial,” the statement said.

In September, US President Donald Trump revoked visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers, saying they had stolen intellectual property and helped modernize China's military. China responded, saying the US was guilty of “monitoring, harassing and willfully detaining” Chinese students and researchers in the US.

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In June 2019, one US lawmaker said that Chinese university students in the US were increasingly being pressured to spy on the US.

“The overwhelming number of counterintelligence cases in our country now involve Chinese nationals,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman, Democrat Mark Warner, said at the time, news outlet Voice of America reported.

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