Chinese students react to Trump's threat to expel postgraduates
By Ma Ke

The U.S. is planning to expel thousands of Chinese postgraduate students enrolled at U.S. universities in its latest fallout with China. U.S. President Donald Trump is said to be considering a proposal to revoke the visas of students which his administration deems affiliated with Chinese educational institutions linked to the People's Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence. Chinese students from the targeted institutions are worried about their future, but say there are other options than U.S. institutes if their visas do get revoked.

Names of the interviewees will not be given in this article.

A graduate student currently studying architecture at the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) told CGTN although she doesn't study the targeted disciplines, she could still be rejected or be discriminated against when applying for a student visa to the U.S.

Harbin Institute of Technology is one of the targeted institutes. It has some of China's top science and engineering courses and top researchers in varied scientific areas.

The anonymous student said science and engineering students at HIT usually choose to apply for postgraduate or PhD programs during senior years, and this year's applications are over.

If the applicants' visas don't get passed or even get revoked, they would need to start all over and choose other schools. That would be disastrous for Chinese graduates seeking to study with the best researchers in their fields.

The student added that restricting policies on Chinese students applying for science and engineering programs in the U.S. have existed for a while, but this time it has got much more blatant. In the past, applications from Chinese graduate students could sit on a desk for more than six months until they eventually give up and change countries. But now the U.S. government is directly telling them to seek education elsewhere.

She also said even if her application get accepted by her dream schools in the U.S., she's more concerned than before about being discriminated against in school and workplace, if she ever choose to stay and work in the U.S. after graduation.

Another interviewee from Beihang University, one of China's top aerospace science research institute, said it takes a student years of hard work to prepare good grades and record to get into top U.S. institutes. But now with the risk of getting rejected is growing, graduates are seeking other opportunities in Europe and in China. She said the decision by President Trump has violated a student's right to seek knowledge and is opposite to the spirit of academic freedom that U.S. has proclaimed to uphold.

The two students both expressed discontent of their schools being targeted, adding that they feel unfairly treated.

(Cover image: A university student. /VCG)