White house discussed unilateral ban on Chinese students

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White house discussed unilateral ban on Chinese students
Photo from USembassy.gov

The Trump administration earlier this year explored the possibility of banning Chinese nationals from studying in the United States, as part of a national security strategy to resolve the issue of intellectual property theft, according a report by the Financial Times (FT). However, the idea was abolished amid fear of the concerns about the negative impact it will have on the economy and diplomatic relations with China. At present, Chinese nationals represent over a third of more than a million international students in the United States.

Terry Hartle, senior vice-president at the American Council on Education said that the suggested unilateral ban on Chinese students will have an impending and grave impact on colleges and universities in the United States and will have been the cause of an immense controversy. The proposal demonstrated a profound shift in federal policy towards international education.

However, the plan was put aside after US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, a former governor of Iowa, cautioned that the proposal will have a greater impact on smaller colleges as opposed to leading universities; and after US embassy officials in CHina informed that many US states benefit economically from the expenditure of Chinese students.

While President Trump agreed to set aside the proposal, there is still the possibility of it resurfacing in the near future, particularly due to the increasing friction with China, driven by Trump’s imposition of trade tariffs and continuing distress over cyber security.

Hartle pointed out that it is estimated that international students contribute approximately US$37 to US$38 billion to US economy and Chinese students have been presumed to contribute about US$10-US$12 billion of it. While the Trump administration took the right decision, the sheer fact that the idea of unilaterally banning Chinese students was brought up in the Oval Office sends a negative message to potential students. Further, with the numerous attempts to implement a travel ban on some Muslim majority countries, can extensively dissuade them from choosing US as a destination. This will have a detrimental effect on the country. The US has long benefited from being one of the most desirable destinations for the world’s brightest minds. Hence, it is critical for the administration to take careful considerations and approach to the issues in relation to such visitors.

While the Chinese have generally not been satisfactory at the protection of intellectual property and the federal government is concerned about the possibility of numerous individuals entering the US to engage in shadowing, whether for industrial or national security objectives. However, implementing an unilateral ban on all Chinese students is not the quick fix.

The administration’s concerns are also extended to Chinese citizens who can possibly be carrying out sensitive research at American universities and research institutes. Therefore, there have been discussions about the possibility of banning these individuals over the fears that they may be retrieving sensitive intellectual secrets.

Source: University World News

Hence, how can this possibly influence the higher education landscape in the universities within the Asia-Pacific region?

Join us in the upcoming QS-APPLE 2018 from 21-23 November 2018 in  Seoul, South Korea, as we discuss the topic on “Future Universities in the Asia-Pacific: The Changing Face of Higher Education”.