US plan to ease policy on Chinese students merely a gesture: analyst

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/11 23:53:40

The US visa application webpage Photo: IC

US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad's statement that the US  "welcomes Chinese students" might only be a gesture as he failed to acknowledge the US has dramatically tightened access to visas offered to Chinese students and scholars, analysts said Monday.  

Branstad posted an article on China Youth Daily on Monday titled "the US welcomes Chinese students."

The US visa policy for overseas students has not changed, wrote Branstad, echoing the US President Donald Trump's remarks in October saying that the US is not going to "make it tough" for Chinese students, who will be treated just like everybody else.

School administrators from across the US often say that they highly value Chinese students and their ideas and energy help all students participate more fully in education, Branstad wrote in the article published in Chinese.

Branstad also stressed the positive role of Chinese students in cultural exchanges and strengthening of bilateral relations.

Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry said at Monday press conference that "We hope the US side could follow through on its promise, create positive conditions for the bilateral cooperation in overseas education, and promote the China-US people-to-people exchanges."

Branstad's article shows US goodwill amid substantial progress in US-China trade negotiation, Ni Feng, a deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

But he warned the article might only be a gesture and the US won't give up efforts on decoupling from China. 

Ni said that the US has benefited from Chinese students and graduates in the country, but its tightening visa policy has caused many Chinese to cancel plans to study in the US.

"US authorities have adjusted the policy to address the financial losses being incurred by domestic universities and to stem the brain drain, but people-to-people exchanges still face potential challenges as the US' long-term decoupling strategy won't change," he said.

The US faced an international backlash in October for using visa as weapons to prevent a Chinese delegation from attending International Astronautical Congress. The IAC's organizing committee co-chair Vincent Boles said they started working with the US State Department 18 months ago to ensure the timely granting of visas for attendees, but the efforts seemed to be of little avail, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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