Tighter visa rules on Chinese students may lead to unintended lesson for US

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/21 21:53:39

China and Europe stand to benefit if the US truly moves to tighten visa restrictions for Chinese nationals as part of US President Donald Trump's unwise plans to crack down on China.

The Trump administration is considering restricting visas for Chinese citizens, which could hit Chinese students in the US, particularly graduate students in science and technology programs, Politico reported last week. Some administration officials have expressed opposition to the visa restrictions, whose inclusion into Trump's final anti-China package remains unclear, according to the article.

The intimidating move, if finalized, might actually turn out to be an irony in that the reduced accessibility of schools in the US for Chinese students could prove a stimulus for China to improve its own educational system and increase educational exchanges with Europe. It is true the US is home to many of the world's best colleges and many Chinese students aspire to go to school in the US. But it needs to be noted that the purported tightening of visa rules that would inevitably bar many talented Chinese students from attending colleges in the US will eventually undermine the attraction of the US for Chinese talent.

After all, China is pushing vigorously to build itself into a global power in educational attainment. This, along with efforts to strengthen academic ties between China and European countries, could over time generate abundant results for non-US academic circles.

An even worse scenario for the US could be that Chinese companies may slow or halt their purchases of cash-strapped US colleges, thus dealing a direct blow to the US higher-education system.

Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co's pending purchase of a Princeton-based choir college is at least the fourth US college site bought by Chinese companies since 2015, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday.

There will be more of these deals, as it's the only way some of these financially strapped places will survive, Kent John Chabotar, a partner at MPK&D, 1an education consulting group in Baltimore, Maryland was quoted as saying in the report.

The visa restrictions that tend to have an impact on the Chinese buyers' potential to feed local students to US campuses would therefore reduce the appeal of the deals for Chinese interests, backfiring only on the US. As such, tightening visa restrictions would help others win at the US' expense. Smart people should avoid making such mistakes.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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