In recent years, preferential treatment for foreign students by Chinese universities has repeatedly stirred up resentment among the domestic student population.
The Epoch Times recently obtained internal documents from a trusted source that revealed a case of preferential treatment for international students at Liuzhou City Vocational College in Guangxi, a Chinese autonomous region bordering Vietnam.
A document, dated July 16, 2020, from the school’s Institute of International Education showed that Liuzhou City’s Foreign Affairs Office arranged a trip to Baipeng township, Liujiang district for 14 of the school’s international students.
The stated purpose of the trip was “mental relaxation” as well as “learning about the city’s accomplishment of constructing the beautiful countryside.”
An “emergency plan” attached to the document included specifics on what to do in cases of student injuries. For students with minor injuries, the supervising teacher was instructed to provide the “full accompanying service,” including sending the student to the hospital, reporting to the school administration, and communicating with the student’s parents.
According to student information attached in the document, most of the students come from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Laos and Indonesia.
Another document, dated Oct. 19, 2020, described other measures that the city’s Foreign Affairs Office took to create a “healthy and harmonious studying environment” for international students in Liuzhou city, citing students’ declining mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document referenced the July trip where students were taken to see lotus flowers in Baipeng township, and another trip to the opening ceremony of Liuzhou’s annual water carnival.
The city’s Foreign Affairs Office also educated the international students on drug prohibition and AIDS prevention, according to the document.
The case of preferential treatment for foreign students at Liuzhou City Vocational College is not an isolated incident, as there have been many controversies in the past regarding the bias against the country’s own students.
In July 2018, domestic students from Wuxi Institute of Technology in Jiangsu Province alleged that they were forced to move to older dorms with relatively poor living conditions so international students could live in the better dorm, Chinese digital newspaper The Paper reported.
A representative from the university told The Paper that the allegation was the students’ one-sided perspective, and that moving the students was a regular decision by the university.
The official statement released by the university acknowledged that Fangyuan, the older dorm that the domestic students moved into, could not provide 24-hour hot water for showering, but that the school had public shower rooms that would “effectively meet students’ showering needs.”
“Then my question is, why not move the international students to Fangyuan?” asked a Chinese netizen in a comment left under the article by The Paper.
Shandong University, one of the largest universities in China, received backlash in July 2019 for a buddy program that overwhelmingly assigned female Chinese students to male foreign students. One of the questions in the registration form for the program asked if the foreign student wanted a friend of the opposite gender.
Many netizens questioned the motive behind these pairings, which resembled match-making.
The university apologized for the inappropriate question on the registration form but defended the purpose of the program, which was to “help Chinese and foreign students improve their studies and learn each other’s culture by studying together.”
A student, under the alias Zheng Zhi, from Qingdao Binhai University spoke to The Epoch Times in an interview on May 25, 2020 about the double standards applied to foreign and domestic students at his school.
According to Zheng, Chinese students lived in dorm rooms of eight or six, the cheaper ones of which did not even have showers, but foreign students lived in apartments with their own kitchens and bathrooms.
Chinese students were not allowed to dye their hair or wear jewelry, and students of opposite genders could not hold hands, but “foreign students could ride electric bikes, motorcycles, and the girls could wear perfume, get a perm, wear jewelry, and dress very liberally,” Zheng said.
Zheng also confirmed allegations circulating on social media that the school was making Chinese students clean the apartments of foreign students as well as school bathrooms, libraries, and even construction sites on campus, while the international students did not have to do any cleaning.
According to Chinese state media reports, financial awards to foreign students in 2018 totaled to 3.32 billion yuan (about $512 million), The Epoch Times previously reported. Most of the students came from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as “One Belt, One Road”), a transcontinental investment project launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013 which expanded China’s global influence.