BEIJING — China warned students Monday to think about the “risks” associated with attending college in the United States, a sign that the authorities in Beijing are expanding the boundaries of the trade war to include educational exchanges.
The warning, issued Monday, comes as China looks for ways to retaliate against the Trump administration for the tariffs it has imposed on $250 billion worth of goods from China.
Xu Yongji, an official from the Ministry of Education, said the Trump administration and Congress had “politicized some normal China-U.S. educational exchanges and cooperation activities.”
“(They) are accusing Chinese students and scholars in the United States of launching ‘nontraditional espionage’ activities and causing trouble for no reason,” Xu said, advising current and potential students to “strengthen” their risk assessments before deciding to study in the U.S.
Chinese students have made up an increasingly large proportion of international students in the United States in recent years, numbering more than 370,000 in the last academic year — or almost one-third of all international students. They are a valuable source of income for many colleges.
But the rate at which they are being rejected for visas concerns authorities here. In 2018, 3.2 percent of students who applied to study in the U.S. on Chinese government scholarships were rejected, according to government figures. But in the first three months of 2019, 13.5 percent were rejected.