July 24, 2024

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America needs Chinese students in humanities and Indians in science, US ambassador says

America needs Chinese students in humanities and Indians in science, US ambassador says

The United States should welcome more students from China, but to study the humanities rather than the sciences, the second-ranking US diplomat said on Monday, as US universities restrict access to sensitive technology for Chinese students due to security concerns.

Undersecretary of State Kurt Campbell said that Americans are not good enough to study science, technology, engineering and math. The U.S. should recruit more international students in these fields, but not from India — an increasingly important defense partner — China.

For years, Chinese students have been the largest foreign student body in the United States and numbered 290,000 in the 2022/23 academic year. But some in academia and civil society argue that deteriorating US-China relations and concerns about the theft of American expertise have hindered scientific collaboration and made Chinese students unduly suspicious.

“I would like to see more Chinese students come to America to study the humanities and social sciences, not particle physics,” Campbell told the Council on Foreign Relations.

Campbell was asked about the “China Initiative” introduced by the Trump administration to combat Chinese espionage and intellectual property theft, which ended under Biden after critics said it fueled racial profiling of Asian Americans.

He said American universities have made “careful efforts” to support Chinese students’ continued higher education, but are “wary of laboratories and some of the activities of Chinese students.”

“I think it’s possible to restrict and limit some kind of access, and we’ve seen it across the board, especially in the US with technology projects,” he said.

Campbell said the U.S. should be careful not to dismantle ties between the two countries, but said Beijing officials would be primarily responsible for weakening ties in the academic, business or nonprofit sectors.

“It’s really China that has made it difficult to do the activities that we want to continue to see,” Campbell said, adding that foreign executives and philanthropists are wary of long stays in China because of concerns about personal safety.

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