Expert Warns: China Encourages Students and Scholars to Be Opportunity Spies

By Kitty Wang, NTD Staff
August 24, 2019 Updated: August 24, 2019

In recent years, the number of international students and exchange scholars admitted to the United States has grown steadily.

International students’ tuition fees are highest among all the students, so American schools and universities are very willing to accept more of them. But this also raises national security concerns. China is a prime example; In 2017, the number was nearly 2.5 million.

Dan Cadman, Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies told NTD in an interview, “The Chinese government espionage is, you might say a ‘family affair.’ Everything is geared toward accruing technological advantage.”

The number of Chinese students coming into the United States in 2018 reached a record high of over 360,000 people. This accounted for about one-third of the total number of international students in the U.S. Although the number of professional spies among them may be limited, the major concern is that the Chinese Communist Party encourages espionage behavior—many students and scholars may become so-called “spies of opportunity.”

“Some of them are ‘spies of opportunity,’ said Cadman. “They are inculcated into the idea that it is patriotic for them if given the chance to take advantage of things that are open to them, and they are encouraged when the opportunity arises.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce in July expressed concern that Chinese students are under pressure from the Chinese Communist regime to engage in activities beyond their legitimate academic pursuits.

“We take the threat of espionage in academia and the business community seriously. There are visa and legal procedures in place to confront the issue. Also we will not tolerate the theft of intellectual property,” Royce said.

Experts say universities in the U.S. need to improve their management of international students and scholars, and law enforcement agencies must also increase supervision and enforcement of the law. “The people at Homeland Security need to do a better job of policing the foreign student population,”Cadman said. “And if you do that, that sends the message to all of the other students before they get here: The rules must be obeyed.”

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