Known for his hardline immigration views, Miller was reportedly selling the idea that such an action would not only be a deterrent to Chinese espionage but can also hurt the elite universities which have been critical against his presidency.
However, U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad was able to convince Trump that Miller’s suggestion was “too draconian,” explaining that it would harm smaller colleges during an “intense” Oval Office meeting.
U.S. embassy officials in China also pointed out that Chinese students significantly contribute to the service-sector trade surpluses that most U.S. states are running with China.
During an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in February, Director Chris Wray also described Chinese students as part of a ”whole of society” threat to the U.S.
Instead of the proposed ban on Chinese students, the White House came up with new rules which shortened the length of visas for Chinese graduate students studying in “sensitive” fields like robotics, aviation, and high-tech manufacturing, which was instituted in June.
While the move has been hailed by supporters as a solution to China’s alleged espionage through academia, many have criticized it as making it more difficult for brilliant Chinese students to move to the U.S. and contribute to American innovation.