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Being a Chinese student in the US: ‘Neither the US nor China wants us’

Being a Chinese student in the US: ‘Neither the US nor China wants us’

Stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic and squeezed by political tensions, Chinese students in the United States are rethinking their attitudes to their host and home countries.

Eight years ago, Shizheng Tie, then aged 13, moved alone from China to rural Ohio for one sole purpose: education. She once had a budding American dream, but now she says she is facing hostility in that country.

“As a Chinese living in the US, I am very scared now,” she says. Tie, now a senior student at Johns Hopkins University, describes America as “anti-China” and “chaotic”.

Some 360,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled in schools in the US. In the past months, they have experienced two historical events – a global pandemic and unprecedented tensions between the US and China, which have reshaped their views of the two nations.

‘Politicised’ and ‘anxious’

The majority of Chinese students in the US are self-funded and hope their western education will lead to a good career.

Meanwhile, Washington has warned that not all students from China are “normal”, claiming some are Beijing’s proxies who conduct economic espionage, orchestrate pro-China views and monitor other Chinese students on American campuses.

The Trump administration recently cancelled visas for 3,000 students they believe have ties to the Chinese military. One US senator even suggested that Chinese nationals should be banned from studying math and science in America.

Amid the harsh rhetoric, many Chinese students fear that they are being turned into a political target for Washington.

Tie, majoring in environmental science, says she is pessimistic about her academic future in the US, given the growing scrutiny over Chinese students and scholars in science and technology.

“I used to think I’d pursue my PhD in the US and perhaps settle down here, but now I see myself returning to China after obtaining a master’s degree,” Tie says.

Yingyi Ma, associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University, says Chinese students in the US are now “politicised and marginalised at an unprecedented level”, as Washington is sending “very unfriendly signals”.

Read full on https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53573289

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