The Chinese government has cautioned the United States it may detain Americans residing in China in response to the Justice Department's prosecution of Chinese military-affiliated scholars, the Wall Street Journal reported on October 17.
The newspaper, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, said Chinese officials had issued repeated warnings through multiple channels to U.S. government officials.
The paper said China's message was the United States should end prosecutions of Chinese scholars in U.S. courts, or Americans in China could find themselves in violation of Chinese law.
The White House referred questions to the State Department, which did not immediately comment, the report said.
A State Department advisory on September 14 warning against travel to China said the Chinese government uses arbitrary detention of U.S. citizens and others "to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments."
The Trump administration has accused China of using cyber operations and espionage to steal U.S. technological, military and other know-how in a strategy to supplant the United States as the world's leading financial and military power. Beijing has denied the allegations.
In July, the Justice Department said the FBI had arrested three Chinese nationals for allegedly concealing memberships in the Peoples Liberation Army when applying for visas to conduct research at U.S. academic institutions.
Last month, the United States also revoked visas for more than 1,000 Chinese nationals under a presidential measure denying entry to students and researchers deemed security risks, a move China called a violation of human rights.
The acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said earlier that Washington was 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."
At the time, a State Department spokeswoman said the United States continued to welcome "legitimate students and scholars from China who do not further the Chinese Communist Party's goals of military dominance."