China urges US to stop suppressing Chinese students using absurd excuses
Published: Aug 30, 2021 08:25 PM
Chinese students board a charter flight from Southwest China's Chongqing to Manchester, UK in September 2020. Photo: cnsphoto

Chinese students. Photo: cnsphoto

The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US to stop discriminatory practices of restricting and suppressing Chinese students as it undermines the people-to-people and cultural exchanges, after three Chinese students with valid visas were denied entry into the US and deported from Houston airport due to unfounded excuses.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Military, made the remarks at a press conference on Monday. According to Wang, the three Chinese students with valid visas were questioned by US personnel on August 15 at Houston airport when entering the US, and were deported to China. The US suspected the students of having connections with the Chinese military only because they were "funded by the Chinese government" and had "military training photos" in their mobile phones, which is absurd, Wang said. 

Several Chinese education insiders reached by the Global Times on Monday criticized the US' accusation as ridiculous. A teacher surnamed Guo from Beijing Normal University said military-style training is compulsory for Chinese university students to discipline their will, toughen their bodies, and learn basic self-defense combat skills, which is not related to military affairs.

Chinese universities usually require military training for college students during their first or second year, held on campus or at designated training bases.

China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes the US accusation and treatment of the students and has lodged solemn representations with the US, Wang noted.

The US deportation of Chinese students under groundless or even absurd excuses has seriously undermined the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students studying in the US and damaged the normal people-to-people exchanges and educational cooperation between China and the US, Wang said.

He pointed out that such discriminatory practices targeting students from certain countries run counter to the US' self-proclaimed openness and freedom and its commitment of welcoming Chinese students. It also affects the trend of international talent exchanges.

China urges the US to correct its mistake and stop restricting and suppressing Chinese students, said Wang, noting that the country will continue to support Chinese students in safeguarding their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law.

The US embassy and consulates in China reopened visa appointments for Chinese students on May 4, after the Biden administration announced that it was easing restrictions for Chinese and other students traveling to the US this fall.

Although William Bistransky, acting consul general at the US Embassy in China, said the reopening sends a signal to Chinese students that Americans "welcome foreign students into our homes or communities or universities," Chinese analysts pointed out that there is no sign of improvement in China-US people-to-people exchanges as visa restrictions for Chinese STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students remain.  

Chinese students' willingness to study in the US has been gradually waning. This is happening following the two countries being locked into a series of competitions, including trade and technology disputes, and also because the US administration continuously imposes restrictive visa policies on Chinese students with certain backgrounds.

Chinese students accounted for 35 percent of international students in the US in the 2019-20 school year, according to the International Education Exchange, nearly twice as many as the second-highest, students from India.