Chinese students have been warned against studying in the United States, amidst an ongoing trade war between the two countries which has affected the distribution of student visas and similar issues.
China’s Ministry of Education recently released a “study abroad alert” warning students and academics about visa accessibility, while US officials accused China of espionage and intellectual property theft.
As a result, more students are opting for other countries to further their education.
The ministry’s statement said: “It has been the case for a while that some Chinese students who want to study in the US have been encountering visa restrictions, prolonged review times, shortened time validity and a rising rate of visa rejections.
“The Ministry of Education reminds students and scholars to strengthen risk assessment before going abroad to study, enhance awareness of prevention, and make appropriate preparations.”
Prior to its release, Xu Yongji, deputy director at the ministry’s International Cooperation and Exchange Department, described education exchanges becoming “increasingly complicated”.
He said: “The US and the federal government have been politicizing the normal exchanges between the countries and suppressing China in the name of the China threat and infiltration theory.”
US visa requirements for Chinese students, particularly those aspiring towards science and technology degrees, has been tightened in light of concerns about espionage.
FBI Director Christopher Wray accused China last month of attempting to to “steal its way up the economic ladder”.
The Ministry of Education reminds students and scholars to strengthen risk assessment before going abroad to study, enhance awareness of prevention, and make appropriate preparations
– China’s Ministry of Education
Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, he said: “China has pioneered a societal approach to stealing innovation in any way it can from a wide array of businesses, universities and organisations.
“They’re doing it through Chinese intelligence services, through state-owned enterprises, through ostensibly private companies, through graduate students and researchers, through a variety of actors all working on behalf of China.”
In 2018, the US government imposed tariffs on Chinese imports following accusations of intellectual property theft. The duration of US visas for Chinese students studying aviation and robotics was also shortened from five years to one year.
In March this year, a Congress bill banning individuals employed or sponsored by the Chinese military from receiving US student or research visas was introduced.
Two months later, US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods were increased from 10% to 25%. In response, China raised tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods.
Amidst these occurrences, a study on the number of students opting to study in the US was conducted by EIC Education, a Chinese education consultancy.
20% of respondents put the UK down as their first choice destination, and 17% picked the US.
Other popular choices in the study, known as ‘The 2019 Chinese Student Overseas Study Survey Report’, were Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), more and more Chinese students are studying at British universities, increasing from 87,900 in 2014 to 106,530 in 2018.