Is studying in US still a good choice for Chinese students?

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/1 21:03:40

Nine Arizona State University (ASU) undergraduate students from China, returning to the school for the new semester, were detained at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a university statement on Friday.

No detailed information has yet been provided by US Customs and Border Protection, but school officials have confirmed the students' academic eligibility to return to the university and to the US under their visas. ASU President Michael Crow said "the students were in possession of all needed documentation to enter the US," and university spokesman Jerry Gonzalez said "the detentions were not based on allegations of academic dishonesty."

Is the US still a good destination for Chinese students to study abroad? With this case, the question merits the consideration of every Chinese family with such a plan.

Amid increasing tensions between the two countries, the US is trying hard to decouple from China, not only in trade but in almost every other domain. With its frequent moves in educational and cultural exchanges, such an intention is getting clearer. 

A couple of days before the incident involving ASU students, a 20-year-old Chinese student was repatriated in Detroit airport and had his visa cancelled as he had a body armor in his luggage entering the US, a country where shootings are increasingly commonplace. 

And according to the China Scholarship Council, China in 2018 planned to fund 10,313 students to study in the US, and 331 (3.2 percent) failed to enter the US due to visa problems. In the first quarter of 2019, the rate soared to 13.5 percent.

A high percentage of Chinese families are planning to send their children to study abroad. The US, mastering advanced educational resources, has always been a favored destination. Some parents even invest heavily in houses near campus in the US to provide access for their kids to prestigious US school from an early age. In the 2017/2018 academic year, more than 360,000 Chinese students were studying in the US universities, accounting for one-third of the country's foreign students and bringing about $13.9 billion worth of economic benefits. 

But is it worth it? The US is changing dramatically and so are China-US relations. Chinese should get ready for the potential risks of living and studying in the US. Given recent cases, the whole educational plan that a family prepares for a child might be smashed at the arbitrary and cold whim of a US immigration officer. 

China has always hoped to enhance people-to-people exchange and to ease tensions between the two sides, but cooperation can by no means be built based on unilateral willingness. In such a context, Chinese people should really be well aware and well prepared for the US decoupling. In particular, students planning to study abroad should think twice before making a life-changing decision.

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