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.”
MAKING A MOVE: Starting on Monday, short-term business travelers can apply for shorter quarantine periods, while transits of up to eight hours would be allowed The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced an easing of restrictions that would from Monday next week allow foreigners to visit or make a transit flight in Taiwan. A policy allowing short-term business travelers from countries with low or medium risks of COVID-19 infections to apply for shorter quarantine periods is also to resume that day. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that while the autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program is to be extended after the end of this month, special conditions for foreign nationals to enter Taiwan would be restored from Monday. Foreign nationals
SPY GAMES: For more than 20 years, intelligence officers traveled to China, where they identified other MIB personnel and allegedly traded secrets for money and gifts The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted four retired Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) officials, who are accused of providing China with a list of bureau personnel and other classified materials while attempting to recruit colleagues into a spy network in Taiwan. Prosecutors charged Chang Chao-jan (張超然), Chou Tien-tzu (周天慈) and Wang Ta-wang (王大旺), former colonels at the bureau, and Yueh Chih-chung (岳志忠) — a former major general and chief of the MIB’s Fifth Bureau, where he was in charge of sending agents to China on covert assignments — with breaches of the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the National Intelligence Services
CONTINUED VIGILANCE: People would still be required to wear masks at eight types of public spaces and border controls would continue, Chen Shih-chung told reporters The government’s autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program is to continue beyond Sunday, but eating and drinking on high-speed trains would be allowed from Monday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that while there were no new confirmed cases in Taiwan yesterday, the global COVID-19 situation remains serious, so the autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program would be extended beyond its Sunday deadline. “Border control measures, including requiring a negative polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within three days of boarding a plane to Taiwan, and undergoing quarantine in a
MORE RISK? Three Taiwanese family members were found to have the Brazilian variant, which CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said might be more infectious From Wednesday, all travelers who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days are required to be quarantined at a centralized facility after arriving in Taiwan and undergo a COVID-19 test upon ending quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that starting from 12am on Wednesday, all travelers arriving from Brazil, including those who have transited through the country in the past 14 days, would have to stay at a centralized quarantine facility. “They will be tested for COVID-19 upon completing the 14-day quarantine, and they