Sun, Jun 09, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Studying in China not a good idea

By Roger Wu 吳哲文

Certain media outlets have in the past few years been encouraging parents to send their children to study at famous universities in China, and there is no shortage of principals and teachers from top-rated senior-high schools across Taiwan who have backed such moves.

When these outlets publish reports on the issue, they generally praise Chinese universities to the skies. They talk about how hard Chinese students study, how competitive the study environment is and how Taiwanese students’ minds would be broadened if they go there.

Reports like this, which sell “competitiveness anxiety,” are persuasive for some middle-class and richer Taiwanese parents, who were educated under the Republic of China’s party-state system and have been brainwashed by China-friendly media.

In addition, the Chinese government goes out of its way to win them over through policies such as lowering the requirements for students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau to gain admission to Chinese universities and providing more scholarships for them.

The number of students from well-known Taiwanese senior-high schools who have headed west to attend universities in China more than doubled from 6,000 in 2011 to more than 12,000 in 2017, figures published by China showed.

The exodus has added to a student shortage faced by higher-education institutions in Taiwan.

However, over the past couple of years, developing international situations have shaken the assumption that studying at a famous Chinese university is a guarantee of future competitiveness, of being able to pursue further education or of finding employment.

The US’ National Security Strategy, which was published by the White House in December 2017, viewed China and Russia as potential competitors and accused them of stealing US proprietary technology and “unfairly tapping into the innovation of free societies.”

The report listed this as a major national security issue and said that the US government would consider restricting visas for foreign students from designated countries who want to study in the US in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

In June last year, the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy published a report titled How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World, in which it accused Chinese students of being a potential threat to US national security.

That same month, the US government began restricting visas for foreign students aiming to study in designated technological fields such as aeronautics, advanced manufacturing technology and robotics.

This year, the US has started using a wide range of measures that are unfavorable for Chinese students and academics.

For example, some US institutions have started purging US-based academics who have joined China’s Thousand Talent Plan. Last month, Emory University dismissed two married researchers, one of whom had joined the Thousand Talent Plan, accusing them of concealing funding provided by China.

The US government has also started using visa application reviews to prolong the process for Chinese citizens applying for F (student), J (exchange visitor) and H-1B (temporary work) visas. The delays are apparently intended to frustrate these people so that they give up on their applications.

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