Arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have soared this year, lawyers, schools and teachers have said, amid a broad crackdown defined by new police tactics and Beijing’s push for a “cleaner” education system.
Four law firms said that requests for representation involving foreign teachers had surged four to 10 times in the past six months, while teachers and schools confirmed that arrests and temporary detentions for minor crimes had become commonplace.
Switzerland-based Education First (EF) has seen a “significant” increase in detentions for alleged offenses, including drugs, fighting and cybersecurity breaches, according to a June 27 internal notice sent to employees.
EF staff had been “picked up by police at their home and work, as well as in bars and nightclubs, and have been questioned and brought in for drug testing,” it said.
An international school in Beijing and a teaching agency in Shanghai separately confirmed that arrests had risen sharply.
“There’s tremendous pressure for them to keep things clean. It’s all part of [Chinese President] Xi Jinping’s [習近平] idea to make sure that China can show a good face for the rest of the world,” said Peter Pang, principal attorney at the IPO Pang Xingpu Law Firm in Shanghai, which represents foreign teachers in disputes.
The Chinese Public Security Bureau and Ministry of Education did not respond to requests for comment.
Many of the legal cases involving foreign teachers are linked to new and enhanced drug-testing measures, including testing methods that can track drug use over a longer time, lawyers said.
Three former teachers from two schools in Beijing and Shanghai who were detained for 10 to 30 days before being deported this year said that authorities drug-tested teachers multiple times within weeks of arrival and conducted extensive interrogations.
One of the three, a 25-year-old Florida man who was deported in May after a 10-day detention in Beijing, said that he and a colleague underwent a urine screening on their first day in China, which came back clean, but were detained after a surprise workplace test two weeks later showed traces of cannabis in his hair.
“I didn’t touch a single drug in China,” the man said, declining to share his full name.
Hair tests can detect cannabis for up to 90 days, meaning that teachers from nations where the drug is legal are vulnerable.
“The problem with hair testing is that it can detect cannabis from months prior,” said Dan Harris, Seattle-based managing partner of law firm Harris Bricken.
In September last year, China launched a wide-reaching campaign to remove foreign influences from education, including efforts to ban foreign history courses, outlaw self-taught material and revise textbooks to focus on Chinese Communist Party ideology.
Rising anti-foreigner sentiment and a glut of teachers mean that expatriots are also more likely to be exposed to noncriminal issues, including schools docking pay, refusing to provide documentation for visas and changing contracts without warning, lawyers said.
“What has changed is that many government officials think that kicking out Western influences like English teachers is doing the party’s work, and the schools are taking advantage of it” Harris said. “The risks of going to China to teach far outweigh the rewards.”
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters