Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning that “Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends.” But how many are aware of the critical role the Obama administration and its vice president Joe Biden played in astronomically expanding the Chinese student presence on our nation’s campuses over the past ten years? Or that the red superpower is now expressing confidence that after a rough four years the welcome mat may be out again with Joe Biden in the White House?
‘400,000 Students a Year’
At a Dec. 9 speech at Georgia Tech, Pompeo highlighted the dire threat posed by the massive infiltration of American universities by China:
“Look, the Chinese Communist Party knows it can never match our innovation. It has state-owned enterprises; it’s an authoritarian regime; it is a government-centric focus. That’s why it sends 400,000 students a year to the United States of America to study …
“Much of the high-end industrial base inside of China is based on stolen technology, or technology purchased from other nations. It’s not home-grown.
“Beijing doesn’t want Chinese researchers to stay here in the United States. Indeed, after they’re trained, they want them to come back. They want to induce their return for the singular purpose of serving the Socialist Motherland.”
But while U.S. officials sound the alarm on a growing danger, the Chinese feel good about the immediate future. They see a Biden presidency as a boon for the floodtide of China nationals studying in the United States. A Nov. 11 article at Sixth Tone, a state-media magazine of the communist regime, exults:
“[S]ome Chinese agencies providing study abroad consulting services have forecast that a Biden presidency could lead to a potential increase in Chinese young people studying in the U.S. One Shanghai-based study abroad company noted that Biden’s seemingly lenient attitude toward immigration and visa restrictions, as well as the incoming first lady’s role as an educator, could be seen as positive signs for the future of international students in the country.”
‘I Had Hoped Biden Would Win’
The red publication related how Chinese students were greatly buoyed by the prospect of a Biden White House:
“’I had hoped Biden would win,’ said Yu, a piano performance major at a university in Michigan, adding that visa and job policies under the Trump administration were unfriendly to Chinese students like her. ‘Trump’s term has made Chinese students’ lives harder. I had to pay more for visa-related fees. A lot of my friends who were thinking of remaining in the U.S. to work eventually chose to return to China.’”
China has every reason for renewed optimism. As vice president for eight years, Biden actively promoted the influx of Chinese students, and the results were staggering. A 2015 Foreign Policy article reported that “[t]he number of Chinese international students has increased nearly fivefold since the 2004-2005 academic year, when there were 62,523 Chinese students stateside.”
That startlingly rapid rise in ten years, most of it while Barack Obama was president, is no coincidence. The Obama administration fervently supported a wave that has become so large that Chinese nationals now make up a third of all international students studying in the U.S. today.
Biden himself specifically encouraged the escalation on multiple occasions. In a 2011 speech at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, he said that “more than 130 [sic – should be 130,000] students from China attended our universities last year. We’re hoping that number will be even larger.”
In a 2011 address at the opening session of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue in Washington, he said that “last year, 130,000 Chinese were studying in the United States. They’re really good. We’re going to try to keep some of them. I’m only joking. I’m only joking. But they are.”
A vital contributor to the current national security threat came in 2014 when Obama changed the visa rules for Chinese students. As he explained in a speech during his visit to China that year:
“And that’s why I’m very pleased to announce that during my visit, the United States and China have agreed to implement a new arrangement for visas that will benefit everyone from students to tourists to businesses large and small. Under the current arrangement, visas between our two countries last for only 1 year. Under the new arrangement, student and exchange visas will be extended to 5 years, business and tourist visas will be extended to 10 years.”
The move was widely seen as a game-changer. “The new five-year student visas could have a bigger impact than the new 10-year tourist and business visas [also implemented by Obama]. The inquiries we are receiving are two to one about the student visas, over the tourist and business visa,” Simon Henry, CEO of Juwai, a company that connects Chinese buyers with foreign sellers of real estate, told Forbes in November 2014.
Making things worse is that a significant percentage of these students pursue studies in the highly sensitive STEM field. They learn cutting-edge technology on robotics and other advanced areas and then return to their communist homeland armed with their new knowledge. “About 36 per cent of the 363,341 Chinese students study in the fields of STEM,” a 2019 article at the South China Morning Post states.
‘Global Partnerships’ With Communism
Naturally, the Obama administration leaned on the sacred cow of “diversity” to champion its service to the oppressive communist regime. In an undated interview posted at a website called Diversity Abroad, Martha Kanter, who served as Under Secretary of Education for Obama from 2009 to 2013, touted “new partnerships” in higher education that focused on China:
“With the President’s initiative to really reach out to Muslim countries of the world you’ll see a greater focus on countries like Indonesia … And of course countries like China where we have made significant investments in global partnerships between US universities and Chinese universities.”
In 2013, the Institute of International Education (IIE) published an “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange” that received a fair bit of attention in establishment media. The report was created “in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,” a press release from IIE stated.
“There are now 40 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than a decade ago, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past three years … The growth is largely driven by students from China … Chinese student enrollments increased by 21 percent in total to almost 235,000 students, and increased by 26 percent at the undergraduate level,” the organization revealed.
An Obama administration official who commented on these facts did not see a problem. Quite the opposite. “There is definitely still room for growth on both sides,” Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan said of the report. “Having these Chinese students on U.S. campuses helps to build a bridge between China and the United States.”
Evan Ryan is the wife of Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of State.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.