Asia, Education, Top Stories

American Universities’ China Problem

According to a report released last month by a group of distinguished China scholars, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses vague threats to induce US professors and students to avoid topics that might offend Chinese government sensitivities—research or discussions on Tibet, Taiwan, Xinjiang, human rights, and Chinese politics, for example. It denies visas to scholars who criticize the regime, uses Chinese students in the US to inform on one another, and punishes universities for hosting controversial speakers. After a university hosted the Dalai Lama, Beijing retaliated by banning Chinese students and scholars with funding from the Chinese government from attending the university. When the institutions we entrust to pursue the truth start avoiding the truth—particularly academic research that few of us can do on our own—we all suffer.

The importance of universities’ truth-seeking role cannot be overstated. Medical researchers produce data on effective and ineffective therapies. Economists measure the impacts of different policy options. Sociologists study how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. Political scientists analyze governments. The integrity of American universities has rarely been questioned because it was assumed scholars enjoy academic freedom.

In contrast, Chinese scholars inhabit a very different world. When I worked in Beijing 10 years ago, I frequently met scholars who had to be careful about what they said. In 2010, I co-hosted a program with a well-respected professor at Peking University—China’s finest. He became agitated and angry when one of the speakers just mentioned the name of a critic of the regime, Liu Xiaobo. The professor feared he would be demoted or have his salary cut. The incident gave me renewed gratitude for the freedom on US campuses.

Ten years later, fear of offending the Communist regime has spread to American campuses  Some of the blame belongs with China, but much of it belongs with the US universities themselves. By becoming ever more reliant on Chinese money they have placed themselves in a profound conflict of interest: adhere to academic freedom or please Beijing. Economic reliance on China has increased vastly in the last decade. Universities recruited Chinese students in record numbers. Enrollments soared by 400 percent. Chinese pay tuition worth an estimated $12 billion per year, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Universities solicited Chinese money to expand their markets. New York University, Johns Hopkins, Duke, and others formed joint enterprises with Chinese government-run universities to establish branch campuses, receiving generous donations of cash from the CCP and land to do so. At home, financially strapped colleges sought Chinese money to host Confucius Institutes, which some believe to be propaganda centers. All told, since 2011, Chinese sources have contributed over $426 million to 77 American universities, according to disclosures made to the US Department of Education. This figure is almost surely an understatement because colleges only have to report contributions in excess of $250,000. And the figure does not include non-cash support. Last week it was revealed that CEFC, a Chinese conglomerate linked to foreign bribery, helped Columbia University energy center raise $500,000.

Academic freedom is the victim. A recent survey of more than 500 China studies scholars in the US revealed that about 68 percent of the respondents identified self-censorship as a problem in the field. Scholars avoid studying certain topics or adopt the official narrative of the Chinese regime when talking about sensitive issues. As Perry Link, emeritus professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, put it recently, “We don’t talk about ‘Taiwan independence.’ We talk about ‘the cross-Strait relations.’ We don’t talk about ‘the occupation of Tibet.’ We don’t call the June 4th Massacre ‘massacre.’ It is June 4th ‘incident,’ or something like that.”

Recognizing the threat to academic freedom, the report recommends that US universities scrutinize their Chinese donations more carefully to make sure they do not contain restrictions on academic freedom. But such a proposal will be ineffective. Chinese donations have never contained explicit restrictions on academic freedom. Instead, it is the fear that Beijing will end support that nurtures a culture of self-censorship.

The only way to reduce interference is for universities to prioritize their historic mission of telling the truth. Universities should still welcome Chinese students, but they need to stop accepting money from the Chinese government. Legislators, businesspeople and the public rely on unbiased research to help them make informed decisions. If our universities can no longer be trusted as arbiters of the truth, who can?

Robert E. Precht is director of Justice Labs, a legal think tank based in New York. Previously he served as China director for the Public Interest Law Network and as an assistant dean at the University of Michigan Law School. You can follow him on Twitter @robprecht


  1. Farris says

    The other side of this coin is Chinese students are admitted to top American universities, displacing American students. Yet SAT and ACT cheating scandals are rampant in China.

    • My conscience says

      When I was doing my masters, the Chinese students around me –many more brilliant than me– delicated hours each day, for many months, into memorize English words for the language part of the GRE (they can easily ace the other parts).

      I considered that totally inhumane… but what is even more inhumane is the discrimination that they are getting these days from the “progressive left” in favor of the minority races. Why can’t everyone just work harder?

      • scribblerg says

        Why should any American student have to “compete” with anyone from China? Why do we issue 350,000 student visas to Chinese students to begin with? We should drop the number to 5,000 and only issue them once the individual passes a deep background/security check. This would push China back on their heels and hurt the Communists as it’s their children who are here in the West getting educated. They also buy property and establish citizenship if they can, in massive ways.

        Don’t believe me? Go to the Boston area, see how many houses and apts are owned by Chinese people. Use AirBnB, get a place, more than half of them are owned and operated by Chinese people.

        They bid up real estate vastly in places like Vancouver, LA, San Francisco and others. How on earth is any of this beneficial to the average U.S. citizen? It does appeal to the aesthetics and post-nationalist fantasies of our Progressive elites who are so desperate to see China as a “normal nation” that they’ll lie about anything, and ignore everything.

        Cancel all Chinese student visas now.

        • Conner M. Steacy says


          It’s everywhere. I live in a small University town in Ontario in the downtown core. I am surrounded by newly built apartment blocks filled with Chinese students. No doubt the University is attracted to them by their ability to charge, and for them to pay, sometimes triple the tuition of a native Canadian. The university population has doubled since the mid 1980’s to about 24,000.

          My town of 125,000 now has the 2cnd lowest vacancy rate in Canada of 0.6%. This has affected rental rates tremendously for the whole city.

          The university’s website has everything in Mandarin (I presume)

    • Sandra says

      Very true. And not only that, but so many Chinese students don’t even speak, read, or write English, and their understanding of the language is minimal. It is for that reason that they major in economics, thinking they don’t need language skills in math classes. And when confronted with the reality of having to write term papers, they pay other students and/or services to do the research and writing for them.
      But they pay full tuition, and they have money to spend around town.
      Our universities have moved beyond merely being centers for indoctrination. They are now also whores who service the richest clients, no matter how filthy they are.

      • I once worked in accounts department for London Uni [Central] as a payments officer and came across hundreds if not thousands of Chinese students and never met anyone who could not speak sufficient English. Their mannerisms were different and a bit odd. They often turned away without saying thank you or ending a conversation properly and rarel looked you in the eye etc. So in what capacity did you come across Chinese students? Your comments just come across as lazy prejudices.

        • Sandra says

          “So in what capacity did you come across Chinese students? Your comments just come across as lazy prejudices.”
          My own son had to drop two economics classes while he attended a large university on the East Coast because he was the only English-speaking student and could not understand the heavily-accented speech of the teachers, themselves also Chinese who promptly switched back to Chinese as soon as my son would get up and leave.
          I don’t live in the UK, but stories like these are too numerous in the U.S. to discount as simply “lazy prejudice”.
          And while at UPENN on business, I noticed the designer-clad female Chinese students who stood out like a sore thumb amidst their American counterparts, especially the minorities. In Lansing, Michigan, home to Michigan State, Chinese male students drive the most expensive sports cars.
          But these are not the ones against whom Harvard is being sued for discriminating against. No. Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans, born and raised here, middle-class, super-smart, highest scorers, etc.
          Something very rotten is going on.

        • With regards to the English proficiency, I would say you’re incorrect. Having worked as an International Officer at a good Scandinavian university for some time, my conclusion is that Chinese students in general have sub-par English proficiency compared to their peers from, for example, Japan and South Korea.

          Naturally, my suspicions increased tenfold when I was able to land a part-time job at a legally dubious Chinese company, where my sole purpose was to polish Chinese students’ application papers to American universities. From reading their papers, I can assure you that many (presumptive) Chinese students’ English proficiency is far below what would or should be acceptable.

          As someone else noted, Western (and in particular American) universities are nothing more than degree mills for privileged Chinese students that either received a bad grade on their gaokao (effectively destroying their chances to lead a successful career in China), or those who just wants to emigrate out of China.

          Many (though I can’t speak of how many) Chinese students in the West have no intention of learning the language, let alone actually study. There’s always someone they can pay to do it for them.

          • Zany, Inc. says

            The real issue here is, Why the hell are Chinese, Japanese and South Korean students in a “good Scandinavian university” to begin with?

    • They cheat on their own exams too, and their parents complain if they’re not allowed to. And they steal research data, and they steal technological know how, and they ignore trademark protection (ask Michael Jordan), etc. etc.

      • Stephanie says

        Oh, and they fake fossils, benita. Everyone who works on fossils knows that when there is a great find out of China, chances are it’s fake.

    • Stephanie says

      Universities operating as degree mills for Chinese students is indeed a problem. Lower standards for Chinese students (particularly with regards to language skills) and rampant cheating are common in my experience and those I’ve talked to about it in Canada and Australia. They come together hilariously sometimes, like when I was giving my engineering students a practice exam, and a couple of them didn’t get that it was just a practice. A few started cheating with each other, and I repeated several times that there was no point in cheating on a practice exam. I thought they had got it eventually, but when they were done they handed it into me! They were shocked to learn I wasn’t going to mark it!

      I’ve known a lot of honest, hard-working Chinese students as well, but it seems that once they reach a critical mass in a classroom, they self-segregate and some unsavoury characteristics can emerge. I covered my friend’s lab section once, and half the class was Chinese. Everyone else of every race (including Chinese raised in Canada) sat mixed on one side of the class, and on the other were all the Chinese from China, women all at the back and men all at the front. It was bizarre.

  2. Not to mention the wholesale industrial (or worse, military) espionage that is going on in western universities too.

  3. Steven V says

    I’m a bit torn by the question about the role of Chinese students and money in US campuses. Ideally we could have the former without the latter, but naturally the two go hand in hand. On one side of the equation, the chance to educate and take part in molding the worldviews of the next generation of Chinese leaders in business, science, and politics can be a powerful thing. I think increased contact and interaction with Western ideals and thought through overseas studying plays at least some part in increased desire for civil liberties. For instance, support for gay marriage in China is highest in cities with stronger Western influence: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, maybe Shenzhen nowadays. Contrary to stereotypes (some of which are echoed in the comments section here), the Chinese students I met in university were academically rigorous, did not cheat, and were generally open to controversial discussion.

    On the other hand, the role of Chinese money in university concerns me. We know that people who contribute monetarily have clout in determining what speech is tolerated on campus. Take Steven Salaita’s case as on example. Over 2 out of 3 China studies scholars reporting self censorship is alarming to me. While on principle I don’t think that an outright ban on Chinese money in universities is in order, the universities should emphasize that scholars will not be held responsible for any loss of funds due to speech that mainland Chinese find controversial.

  4. Pingback: American Universities’ China Problem -

  5. Isn’t it generally true that academic freedom are likely to be compromised in funded research? Or is there something particularly evil about Chinese monies?

  6. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: American Universities’ China Problem – News about world

  7. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: American Universities’ China Problem – Outside The Know

  8. That’s right. Steven V did not write what is being attributed to him. What is Pingback? The question of academic exchange between China and democratic countries is a serious and complicated question. Steven V’s observation is correct. It is complicated. One factor to take into account is the growing crackdown on academia in China by the current government. The relative opening that we saw just 5-10 years ago on Chinese campuses has been closing fast. At my university in the US we were able to invite Chinese students and faculty and have open debate and discussion about the so-called sensitive topics: Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, democratization taking Taiwan as an example, and even the case of Liu Xiaobo. In turn, a faculty member at our university was invited to the corresponding Chinese university to speak about the same general theme, and was able to publicly address THESE VERY SAME TOPICS: Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Liu Xiaobo. I know this from first hand experience – I was the invited professor for the entire summer session seminar. The discussion and debate was lively, open and respectful. This opportunity for exchange of ideas appears to have been severely rolled back under current policy. As Steven V points out, we all (that means all of us) have an interest in keeping the lines of discussion and debate as open as possible. The current reaction and clamp-down in academic in China is a troubling, and I don’t know exactly what the way forward will entail. At the same time academia in the democratic countries has to grow a backbone: no more sensitive topics.

  9. Pingback: === === popular today

  10. Pingback: American Universities’ China Problem – Hacker News Robot

  11. E. Olson says

    “In 2010, I co-hosted a program with a well-respected professor at Peking University—China’s finest. He became agitated and angry when one of the speakers just mentioned the name of a critic of the regime, Liu Xiaobo. The professor feared he would be demoted or have his salary cut. The incident gave me renewed gratitude for the freedom on US campuses.”

    Is the author referring to the freedom on US campuses that lead to the cancellation or violent protests (often led by faculty and administration) against speakers such as Charles Murray/Heather MacDonald/Amy Wax/Jordan Peterson? Or is the author referring to the freedom on US campuses where most professors of social sciences and humanities openly admit they will not consider hiring non-Leftist faculty? Or is the author referring to the freedom on US campuses, which leads to demotions and pressure to leave if faculty conduct research that finds racial/gender IQ differences, or down-sides to affirmative action, or if the faculty member expresses support for Donald Trump or criticizes Black Lives Matter?

    • Actually, I think he is referring to the freedom to criticize said Donald Trump. If you think the same freedom to criticize Xi exists in China, you would be wrong.

      There is absolutely no comparison between freedom in the US and freedom in China. Quillette started as a bastion of sanity, where most understood scale and nuance. Help keep it that way.

  12. Lennarrt Edenpalm says

    Most comments and articles on this site are too long. They are written by academics so it is understandable. Problem is you forget the over all picture and in this specific case what is the purpose of having a government of China (or in any other country).

    The Chinese are not worried about what is going on in US universities, or the liberty of expressing their views in a paper, they want the best standard of living as possible and if the government´s policy results in that, well they are happy.

    The last thirty years the Chinese economy has increased twenty fold, a ten percent GNP each year for several decades means they are no longer poor.

    Now, what is wrong with that?

    • Susan says

      Please pass the Soma. Others have pointed out that China is incorporating Huxley’s Brave New World with its satisfaction of worldly desires into its 1984 system of accruing social credits to order to buy a train pass. I guess if you have to live in a dystopia, London AF definitely beats Oceania.

    • Stephanie says

      @Lennart, I’d say most articles and comments are too short to properly address the issue at hand.

      The Chinese are certainly concerned with what’s going on at American universities, or they wouldn’t be funneling money and students that way. Do you imagine Chinese investment in Africa is also innocent of any geopolitical motivations?

      Nothing is “wrong” with Chinese growth, except that it empowers a communist dictatorship, giving it the means to crush any movement that could lead its people to freedom. They’re 1984 there already: the surveillance state is too omnipresent for people to break free. The Chinese aren’t stupid, they know they’re being controlled, but there’s nothing they can do about it at this point. Economic collapse might be the best possible thing for them in the long run.

  13. Pirus says

    “what is wrong with that?”

    The west is worried about its future in a world dominated by china and other developing countries in Asia. That’s is the honest answer.

    Helped by the dominant left wing ideologs in the west intent on demolishing the current system.

    And I see some truth in that.

  14. Frances says

    While this article is a good beginning, it merely touches on the issues. Take the Confucian Studies Institutes. My understanding is that they are autonomous. What are they teaching our young people? Our future China and East Asian scholars? And they have been around for about 20 years now. In the one large university that I am familiar with, commitment to this institute and “get on the band wagon” craze for setting up branches of the university in China meant the abandonment of other Asian programs. Hence, the Chinese world view and influence dominates.

  15. I came to the USA as a foreign student, so I had to take the English language test (TOEFL). My Chinese classmates told me of their TOEFL scores which were far higher than my score. Yet they could barely speak English, while my English was nearly fluent. I realized then that testing in China is totally corrupted.

    • Farris says


      Thank you for your insight. I wish to clarify that I am not opposed to top foreign students attending top American universities, especially when those placements are earned. However, those who cheat skew what should be a meritorious process. The testing agencies should withdraw from countries where the security protocols are insufficient. Furthermore, universities shouldn’t accept exam results that may be suspect. Lastly I am aware top American universities have engaged in discrimination against Asian applicants. This too is wrong as it skews the meritorious process. However as I understand it, this discrimination has been limited to native born Asians.

    • Stephanie says

      @benita, maybe you should pitch that article to Quillette? I’ve never heard of that but would love to learn more.

      Merry Christmas!

      • Dan Flehmen says

        Arab oil money permeates western politics when it comes to Middle East policy. How else to explain the left’s virulent hatred of Israel, the only modern, free and democratic country in that whole blighted region? Thanks to propaganda paid for with Gulf money, the left glorifies cruel, violent, woman-hating Islam and perpetuates ancient anti-Semitism spewed by countries whose official policy still demands the annihilation of Israel.

        • SonOfMan says

          Trump and Putin love Saudi Arabia. The leaders of the political Right clearly love Arab money just as much as the Left.

          • Trump supports Mohammed bin Salman, who is trying to reform Saudi Arabia. In Saudi context MBS is a liberal. The western media & left hate MBS since his project is counter to their of undoing the west. They prefer the Iranians, Muslim Brotherhood, and the Saudi conservatives opposing MBS. Quite a difference.

  16. ADM64 says

    Our universities are doing a very thorough job of self-censoring on subjects deemed controversial and thus potentially politically incorrect. Whole disciplines in the humanities long ago discarded the very notion of an objective truth. It is hardly surprising that their gutless, self-flagellating administrators are bending over to China, or that a professoriate that already sees it’s mission as anti-western indoctrination would go along with it.

    The only solution to the China problem on the campuses is for the government to deny visas to Chinese students for STEM fields and expel the ones currently in them. I have no problem with letting any number of Chinese students pay top dollar to participate in gender, women’s, black, or LGBTQ studies, sociology generally, or diversity studies.

    • Ray Andrews says


      Strategic! Turn their kids into twits. Nah, it won’t work, the Chinese are entirely sane.

  17. Ray Andrews says

    It begins to make sense. Modern universities are not temples of learning, they are businesses, and successful businesses keep the customer satisfied. As always: follow the money.

  18. MKosmos says

    While doing my Clinical research fellowship at UPMC, one day I realized that Chinese students had their own poster presentation day. We had 2 in our Lab, nothing against them, but this is something well orchestrated, our companies go there, while they come and take everything from you the inside. I come from Eastern Europe by myself, but I tell you if China would let Christianity they will surpass everyone. They are many and determined to do it. So far there is no freedom of religion, so I don’t think they can resist for a long period of time, but most likely they’ll produce some casualties.

  19. Hello Admin,

    It is very nice that your blog is providing information regarding the program. I want to aware you towards the “Human Rights Watch Internship Opportunities for Students, 2018”. Human Rights Watch helps you in taking the first step of your career by providing a number of internship opportunities.

    Application Deadline is Varies

    For more information you can go through –

  20. Pyria says

    I am much more worried about far leftists on campus than Chinese presence. Confucius Institutes and the like propagate what Beijing wants the world to think of China, which is quite biased, but hardly an attempt to destabilize western society. Their plot amounts to ‘saving face’ and making China look good, not communist subversion.

    In fact, the influx of Chinese students seem to have a moderating effect on far left campus politics, because they are largely apolitical.

  21. Pingback: American Universities’ #China Problem… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)

  22. I’m a student at a Big Ten university. All universities in the Big Ten are solid universities. I’m what’s called a non-traditional student. It’s the nice way of saying i’m older lol. Chinese students are littered throughout the business school here. They are all very nice and I always enjoy working with them. Problem is. They CHEAT like you wouldn’t believe. They copy each others homework non-stop. They get on google docs during tests to talk to each other. I don’t turn people in not my style or business. It really does bother me though that they are allowed to cheat like that. It can’t be a secret that doesn’t make its way up the ladder through higher ranks in university administrations. These Chinese students are taking the place of American students who couldn’t get in the university because of grades or money. If they stay in America then great, but if not what is the higher education system really doing to support our younger citizens that might need a little help?

  23. I teach in an undergraduate program. One of my former students did a master’s in finance at Case-Western. He reports that of about 100 in his class, approx. 90 were Chinese. This drastically altered the nature of courses, and not for the better. The Chinese tended to have poor English and poor understanding of economics, so in some respects the coursework was remedial.

    The program is a cash cow for the university so this persists. Perhaps this makes sense as a business model (I’m skeptical) but it is clearly senseless as an educational model.

  24. R Henry says

    Key takeaway: China, Chinese culture, and Chinese political practices/obectives are all in direct conflict with Western culture.

    Contrary to the faux-idealist Progressive exhortations to the value of Multiculturalism, increased cultural integration with China will weaken, not strengthen Western societies.

  25. prince says

    The US Universities impact on the Chinese culture is arguably much larger than the impact of the Chinese money on the US institutions.

    The Chinese elite educated by and experiencing the American way of life and the the culture of openness, freedom and free speech could have a profound effect on the long term direction of China into a full fledged democracy.

    “When I worked in Beijing 10 years ago, I frequently met scholars who had to be careful about what they said. ”

    I find the above statement amusing. The need to watch what one says in US Universities and enterprises is now at a peak never seen since the McCarthy era in the 50s. It is almost amusing to see the Chinese drifting towards freedom and the US drifting towards a cultural-revolution-like social totalitarianism.

  26. Ace “Ace” Kenshader says

    The obvious solutions would be for the US to be a bigger contributor to the funding of public universities by stopping the financial aid to students directly, and for states to increase funding in higher education by making education a priority item in budgets.

    • R Henry says

      Uhm…instead, why not require publicly funded educational institutions exist for the sole purpose of educating resident US citizens?

  27. TheSnark says

    I lived in China for several years, so here goes. (I hope academia can handle a dose of reality.)

    First off, most mainland Chinese who go to US universities for undergraduate studies are kids who could not get good grades on the GaoKao, the end-of-high-school exam that determines who gets into the best universities in China (sort of like a 2 or 3 day SAT, but it is the ONLY score the schools look at). If their parents are rich enough, they try send their precious little under-achievers overseas. So it becomes a matter of buying the right credentials: cheating on the TOEFL, SAT, college essays, etc can all be bought online, or from specialty “tutors”. Their are many individuals and even sizable companies providing these services.

    Second, these kids are NOT going to the US for an education, they are going for branding. They are going for parental bragging rights, and so that their resume says “I went to Harvard/Stanford, etc etc). They and their parents don’t care if they learn squat. So forget about them absorbing Western thought and ideals, or any of that crap. They aren’t, these are spoiled rich kids spending 4 years partying with each other.

    Solution? The universities should call it like it is. Admit that you can’t police their cheating, admit that you can’t select only the ones able to handle the course work, admit that you only want them for their money. So cut the number you let in by half, and charge them 4x the normal tuition. They will still come: their parents have the money, and for them the branding is worth it.

    This will, of course, hurt the minority of mainland students who really want to learn something and are able to do so, but given the ubiquity of cheating and how naive the typical admissions staff is, I know of no way the Western universities will be able to identify them in advance.

  28. HappyExpat says

    I live in China, and have lived here now for seven years. I can honestly say that the large majority of students I have worked with more than deserve to study in American universities. I moved to this article after I finished reading “Refighting the Usage Wars” published by Michael O’Keefe on American writing. I was amused during his article about how well the students here in China use grammar correctly, write well organized essay’s, and use topic sentences. I admit everything in this article about self-censorship is true, as I fully expected this article to be blocked, but having accepted living in a culture where freedom of speech is not an inalienable right, I find that a majority of people learn to self-censor naturally as social skills develop. Americans are adept at doing their best not to tread on others’ feelings. Societal backlash seems to be swift, or at least swifter than when I lived there. In China, this sense is more highly developed, and I will leave it at that.

    What I wish to address are some of the comments about the students themselves, which are unfair. All of my comments are based on undergraduate education. I have no experience dealing with post-graduate students. To begin, there is certainly cheating on the ACT and SAT. Cheating will always exist when there is an incentive. However, the US government has safeguards to protect against these cheaters, even if they gloriously pass their exams and get accepted into a prestigious university. After the process of being accepted into a school is completed, each potential student must go to a US embassy and have an interview with a real human being. This is where the government has the power to stop people from buying their way into universities. The interview is not a rubber stamp. The students are supposed to have passed a language proficiency exam to be allowed to study in the US. If the interview at the embassy does not go well, the interviewer may reject a student’s application and are not required to divulge a reason why. Are their language coaches that focus on training students with poor English skills to pass the interview? Certainly. Should a well trained interviewer be able to tell? Certainly.

    If the government ultimately has the ability to approve or deny any student visa application, then it is unfair to generalize so many students here as cheaters. Although it is true that some more well off families can send their children abroad if they cannot get accepted to good Chinese universities, and there is social capital to be gained by having a child who has studied abroad, these students still have to pass through the same interview as the rest of the would-be students to go abroad.

    The unpleasant fact is that Chinese students are exceptionally good at rote learning. The students compete to get into good high schools in ways that are difficult for Americans to relate to. In my city, the best high schools are all public boarding schools. The students are in the classroom until 10pm every day, are acutely aware of their ranking as compared with their overall grade, and on the weekends, many attend additional tutoring sessions. This may be an Asian thing. The students here don’t think China is the strictest educator; they save that for South Korea. The amount of homework, memorization, practice tests, and ranked tests is almost unimaginable.

    Don’t let the bad apples that get into the news color your opinion of Chinese students. They work hard. They work really hard. Many dream of coming to the United States to study because of the quality of the Universities, and the technology that will be available to them. To go back to the point of the article, I suggest that the universities embrace Chinese money and invest it to keep themselves at the top of the education game. There is a time, not too far in the future, where the most money and the best technology will be spent on Chinese universities. They will import teachers of the highest quality, and there won’t be a chance to even have a conversation about self-censorship.

  29. TheSnark says

    I, too, was a happy expat in China, and am now happy to be back in the US.

    The problem in China is the fundamental dishonesty, and that the US universities are not able to catch it. Transcripts can be, and are, photo-shopped. If you check with the school for official transcripts, the applicant bribes the school admin. Recommendations are bought. Essays are ghost written, and then the applicants are coached so they know what is in the essay and can answer interview questions appropriately. SAT answers are stolen beforehand.

    The Chinese are used to being scammed all the time, so the sophistication of the scammers is amazing. Westerns aren’t used to this level of dishonesty, and are easily fooled.

    It sucks. There are so many wonderful, smart people in China, the kind that would love to go to a good Western college and benefit from it immensely. But sorting them out from dross is impossible for an outsider, especially during a the short and episodic college admissions process.

    I can’t see the US government, at the 3 overworked consulates in China, saving the universities from themselves.

  30. “After a university hosted the Dalai Lama, Beijing retaliated by banning Chinese students and scholars with funding from the Chinese government from attending the university. ”

    They are well within their rights to do that. They have to decide if they are money whores or symbols of intellectual honesty.

Comments are closed.