Hostile rhetoric toward Chinese international students: a compilation

This list has largely been accumulated over time via Google news alerts on keywords related to Chinese overseas students and through my own research on the topic. It is thus somewhat arbitrary, but I’ve made no attempt to tip the scales toward publications or individuals of any particular ideology or political affiliation—I include whatever I come across as long as it’s said by someone who could be considered a public figure or published in an outlet with a sizable audience. This is an ongoing project, and will be periodically updated in reverse chronological order. See something you believe should be included? Please shoot me a message on Twitter.

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“Students from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who attend American universities, particularly at the graduate level, long have been recognized as a potential threat to the integrity of American intellectual property. When serving as research assistants to top professors or attending professional conferences, they have been in a position to glean information about sensitive scientific and technological developments that they can then forward to the Beijing intelligence apparatus. […] The Biden administration and Congress should give serious consideration to the benefits, and not merely the costs, of granting subsidies to American universities that reject the applications of PRC students. In doing so, they would not only reduce the threat of Chinese intellectual property and technology theft, but also open the door for many young Americans to a top-level STEM education, and thereby help to maintain America’s technological edge for years to come.”
— Op-ed in The Hill. April 23, 2021 (link)

“So, what’s this have to do with Omaha, Nebraska? Everything. It is almost certain that Chinese agents are already here. One or more may have already befriended an up-and-coming politician, professor or business leader. They might appear as any Asian American — perfect English, completely comfortable with American culture, lots of money. My boys tell me about a number of Chinese students in Lincoln who drive high-end sports cars and throw around money like it doesn’t matter.”
—Blog post by newly-appointed Omaha City Council member Colleen Brennan. December 14, 2020 (link)

“In 2018, there were 363,000 communist Chinese students in our best colleges earning technical degrees, and 5,000 received technical Ph.D.s. How stupid our leaders are to help promote communist technical superiority.”
— Letter to the editor in the South Carolina local newspaper The Sumter Item. December 18, 2020 (link)

“In light of recent news about China’s easy access to congressional representatives, Americans should demand to know what the rush is to expand Chinese presence in American society. Chinese nationals already represent the largest foreign-born enrollment in U.S. universities. Big Tech lobbied intensively for these horrible immigration bills, but no public debates or hearings were held. The GOP continues to reward Silicon Valley with an endless cheap labor supply even though the Justice Department sued Facebook for anti-American employee discrimination. Congress should slow down Chinese immigration until a failsafe migration method can be established. Strict national security against an avowed U.S. enemy like China serves all Americans.”
— Op-ed in The Daily Times (a Tennessee newspaper). December 17, 2020 (link)

“During my U.S. Foreign Service career I supervised international educational exchange programs, including the prestigious Fulbright Program, in three countries — Australia, Peru and Venezuela — but I always wondered why so many Chinese students were in those programs. Now I know the answer to that question. Some of those Chinese ‘students’ were spies.”
— Op-ed in The Nevada Appeal. September 12, 2020 (link)

“Mr. Secretary, number one, are you worried about anti-Chinese racism? And number two, aren’t all Chinese nationals who come here, aren’t they all vetted in some way, shape or form by the CCP? So why not expel all of them, at least temporarily, until China somehow changes its tune?”
— Laura Ingraham to Mike Pompeo on Fox News, May 28, 2020. (link)

“It is time for Purdue to examine its position toward students from the Republic of China. It has become crystal clear that China is and has been the greatest danger to the future of the United States of America. There are stories after stories about China stealing research and intellectual property from United States educational institutions, research centers, and private enterprise. Chinese students at universities such as Purdue are right in the middle of this. It has been made clear that any knowledge gained by Chinese citizens from the United States is to be given to the communist government of China. Failure to do so can result in dire consequences for the Chinese citizen and related others. […]I realize that Purdue loves the money from Chinese and other foreign students. I feel sure it is sizeable. However, at this point in history, encouraging and taking dollars from China borders on anti-Americanism in my opinion. The dollars are tainted.[…] I thank God that we have a president who sees what has happened over many decades. It must stop. What must stop the process that puts Chinese students in positions to steal research and intellectual property.”
— Letter to the editor published in the Indiana local newspaper The Kokomo Tribune, May 23, 2020. (link)

“We also have to, I think, not allow Chinese students to attend American universities, because they come here and they become educated, and they go back with our intellectual property. The United States can no longer be the research and development arm for the Chinese Communist Party. It’s just not acceptable.”
— US Senate candidate Corky Messner, May 8, 2020. (link)

“It’s a scandal to me that we have trained so many of the Chinese Communist Party’s brightest minds to go back to China, to compete for our jobs, to take our business and ultimately to steal our property and design weapons and other devices that can be used against the American people. So I think we need to take a very hard look at the visas that we give the Chinese nationals to come to the United States to study, especially at the post-graduate level in advanced scientific and technological fields. If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that’s what they need to learn from America. They don’t need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence from America.”
— US Senator Tom Cotton on Fox News, April 26, 2020. (link)

“We can stop allowing hundreds of thousands of Chinese students to come to our universities, many of which are the children of Communist Party officials”
— US Senator Tom Cotton on Fox News when asked how the record 66 percent unfavorable view of China in the US could translate to policy, and how China could be made to “pay the consequences” for coronavirus, April 24, 2020. (link)

“Let’s invite an atypical commencement speaker to give a universal graduation speech that can be simulcast to every U.S. institution of higher learning. Who should that person be? The guy who paid for more undergraduates’ educations in America than any other single individual: China’s ‘Core’ leader and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. At the start of the 2020 academic year, approximately 360,000 students from the People’s Republic of China attended American colleges, most of them paying full freight for tuition, books, housing and food. The overall estimate of what the United States earns from all the foreign students coming to America for education comes to around $39 billion a year. Not all of that is from China, but a lot of it is. So let’s hear what their sugar daddy has to say…[goes on to suggest returning Chinese students’ role is to bring back technological information and apply “newfound understanding of our adversary” for the good of China].
—Op-ed in the Miami Herald imagining a commencement speech by Xi Jinping to graduating Chinese students in the US, April 16, 2020 (link)

“The American public is already asking tough questions. Does the U.S. really need almost 15,000 people flying in from China each day? At a time when American students owe $1.5 trillion in student loans, is it smart to have some 360,000 Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges? Is it safe to fund hundreds of labs on university campuses that conduct joint research with Chinese academics?”
— Op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, April 8, 2020 (link)

“We can start by ceasing the subsidizing of the educations of the children of Chinese elites… Our colleges and universities — almost every one of which is supported by taxpayers in the end — educate, at a net loss, the children of the people who are trying to displace us. Why are we doing that?”
— Tucker Carlson speaking to US Senator Josh Hawley on Fox News, April 1, 2020 (link)

“There are now 369,548 Chinese students, up from 98,235 just 10 years ago, studying at U.S. universities. This 300 percent increase, coupled with the exposure of China’s expansionist tendencies, should be a cause of concern for any rational American.”
— Commentary by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk in American Greatness, March 27, 2020 (link)

“We are educating students from a fairly hostile communist country with which we are embroiled in a trade war and we may eventually be involved in a major military conflict at some point. In addition, there are many cases of China students, researchers and the like who have been linked to an organized effort by that country to spy on and steal important inventions and other trade secret information from American entities.[…] The majority of those [students] from foreign countries should come from countries that are democratic, closer to us such as Mexico or those in Central America, and less hostile to our democratic system, freedom and standard of living than China.”
— Commentary in the San Diego Union-Tribune, November 29, 2019 (link)

“We suggest that the Canadian Government take a much stronger and tougher approach when dealing with China. It can begin with temporarily suspending the processing of student visa applications from China or imposing more stringent requirements for Chinese students to come to Canada. Since international students form an integral part of CCP’s propaganda machine, we can undermine the CCP’s propaganda efforts by restricting the number of Chinese international students in Canada.”
— Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed by a consortium of Hongkonger-Canadian groups, October 23, 2019 (link)

“It’s disgusting to see that all this is happening in America as Chinese students come here to take technology and acquire skills to use against us, and then openly display their loathing for democracy and freedom in return. Should the U.S. actually be hosting these people? Is hosting people who are unable to absorb any of America’s values, but hypocritically jump up and protest against real freedom fighters as they were free agents a good thing? Part of the problem, implied in the piece, is that the Chinese students are studying at America’s wokest universities. That might explain why they see America as such a terrible place and freedom as such a vile thing. They’re taking the snowflakery in, learning that America was founded from the beginning on slavery, hearing non-stop diatribes about racism and oppression, feeling the Bern, and not surprisingly, coming to the conclusion that communism is best. Who wouldn’t? […] Cut off the Chinese students and watch these places get a whole lot less woke. That’s another reason to get rid of this awful dynamic now in place — of the U.S. universities now manufacturing China’s worst militants.”
— Article in The American Thinker, responding to this piece in RealClear Investigations, October 19, 2019 (link)

“Why, for example, are there more than 350,000 Chinese students attending American colleges right now? Why would we allow taxpayer-funded colleges to educate the children of Chinese Communist Party elites? Such questions are simply not asked. Our educational system is an autonomous zone, like the Federal Reserve, apparently. Who would question the wisdom of having nearly half a million Communist Party kids wandering around America every year, with many doing their best to learn English so they can spy on us more effectively?”
— Article in the conservative online publication Human Events, October 16, 2019 .(link)

“And to make things worse, the U.S. allowed large numbers of Communist Chinese students to attend our best universities. In 2018, over 363,000 communist Chinese students attended our colleges, which is more than one-third of all foreign students … over 5,000 received technical Ph.Ds. These communist students further increased their technical knowledge by working for U.S. companies in China and the U.S. … a tremendous increase in technology transfer.”
— Op-ed in the South Carolina local newspaper The Sumter Item, October 16, 2019. (link)

“More insidious is the Chinese effort to send hundreds of thousands of students to the West in general, and in particular the United States. Again, in theory it is a brilliant strategy. Like the madcap effort of late-19th and early-20th-century Japan, following the Meiji Restoration, to place a quarter-million students in Britain, France, and Germany to soak up everything from army organization to nautical engineering, China has appropriated trillions of dollars in sophisticated Western technology through espionage, well apart from the legitimate Chinese expatriate mastery of Western science, technology, and engineering. Arrogant Westerners assume that Chinese investors, owners of American real estate, and legions of students will be eventually overwhelmed by American popular culture, liberality, affluence, and freedom, and that they will therefore repatriate to China as subversive agents of change. More likely, Chinese expatriates will return to China in the fashion of early-20th-century Japanese residents, attachés, and students in the United States, whether a future admiral Isoroku Yamamoto or foreign minister Yōsuke Matsuoka. They equated their experience of Western affluence with license and decadence and, as a result, were determined to marry Western engineering expertise with superior Asian discipline, nationalism, and patriotism to nullify the United States as a great Pacific power.”
— Article in The National Review, May 14, 2019 (link)

“There are no easy solutions, but when students are known to be an arm of Chinese espionage within academia something must be done. The United States cannot continue to allow the wholesale import of Chinese nationals into America’s educational institutions when their willingness to report back home is unknown. Diversity is certainly a strength to America’s educational system but, when it comes to foreign citizens from a country known for espionage, measures should be taken to prevent the decay of America’s security and global standing.”
— Op-ed in the student-run Vanderbilt Political Review, which has since been deleted, April 8, 2019. (link to later write-up on the article and the controversy it caused)

“‘We know without a doubt that anytime a graduate student from China comes to the US, they are briefed when they go, and briefed when they come back,’ according to [Joe Augustyn, a former CIA officer]. ‘They don’t just come here to spy … they come here to study and a lot of it is legitimate,’ Augustyn said. ‘But there is no question in my mind, depending on where they are and what they are doing, that they have a role to play for their government.’”
— CNN, February 1, 2019 (Note: the claim that all Chinese graduate students are briefed by authorities before and after going to the US is false)(link)

“Available slots at top colleges are few. Many of these schools are accepting less than 10 percent of American applicants. Should Chinese nationals with academic credentials that cannot be vetted, and a Chinese government that wants its students to maintain their Communist Party allegiance, take thousands of seats away from highly vetted and well qualified American students at schools like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia? With trade negotiations heating up, the Trump administration should take an additional look at how many visas are permitted and the vetting process of students.”
— Commentary in RealClearPolitics, January 17, 2019 (link)

“Did you know there are 360,000+ Chinese nationals on student visas in our colleges? Many have taken highly desired science and tech seats away from American kids using fraudulent applications. Why is this happening? It is time to put American kids first!”
— Tweet by Point Bridge Capital founder and frequent television commentator Hal Lambert, January 17, 2019 (link)

“Chinese students want to study in U.S. universities? Chances are, if they have a high social credit score, their real interest would more likely be spying, be it on American firms or other targets, or on those fellow Chinese students who do not uphold Xi’s line overseas.”
The National Interest, December 12, 2018 (link)

“No other country sends more students to the U.S. than China. Approximately 350,000 Chinese students further their education in the U.S. every year. We know that some of them spy and steal. They’re not stealing the answers to a history quiz or sneaking into Coach O’s office to look at his playbook. They’re stealing our technology, whether it’s agricultural advancements or automobile innovations. …I’m not suggesting that every Chinese student is stealing from us. Those who play by the rules are welcome; Americans should be happy to have them. I also believe, however, that the number of Chinese students who don’t play by the rules, and who are encouraged to steal our intellectual property by the Communist Party of China, would surprise you.”
— US Senator John Kennedy, November 26, 2018 (link)

“Did you know there are 300,000 Chinese students now in the United States, sending all their research, patents, and proprietary information home to the Chinese communists? They are embedded in our government, in our schools, in our media and entertainment industry, and in our technology. This is truly scary stuff.”
— Op-ed in The Washington Times, August 13, 2018 (link)

“Like a serpent in the darkness, Red China has been spreading its tentacles throughout Central and South America with the sole purpose of undercutting U.S. interests. Even more nefarious is the Chinese infiltration of our universities, where their students are used as intelligence agents to steal our most vital military and economic technology. A stranglehold of Chinese cash and large student enrollment has created an environment of bullying were direct and implied pressure from mainland China has created an environment of ‘keep the Chinese happy,’ no matter what the cost. As usual, the highest administrative levels of our universities have caved to Chinese pressure. It may be necessary to limit the number of Chinese students permitted to attend our schools in order to protect our most valuable technology from the pervasive threat Chinese intelligence gathering pose to the security of the American people.”
— Reader letter in the local Kansas newspaper The Hutchison News, August 9, 2018 (link)

“Trump noted of an unnamed country that the attendee said was clearly China, ‘almost every student that comes over to this country is a spy.’”
— Alleged comments made by President Trump at a dinner at his private golf club, as reported by Politico, August 8, 2018 (link)

In Business Insider article about “how to protect yourself” from Chinese espionage, article advises to “use caution with Chinese nationals.”
Business Insider, June 3, 2018 (link)

“A massive number of Chinese college students and professors here are actually probably spies for their government.”
— Tucker Carlson, Fox News, May 10, 2018 (link)

“Indeed, we must not ignore the possibility that some of the totalitarian tactics of Antifa and other activist groups on American college campuses are inspired, aided and/or abetted by outside forces that include Chinese efforts to inject their communist and totalitarian ideology onto American campuses. We must also consider other problems created by so many foreign students — particularly Chinese students enrolled in STEM curricula on U.S. campuses. Foreign students who enroll in courses in the United States become eligible for Optional Practical Training, enables them to put their newly acquired education and skills to work in a real-world setting but also carries with it two serious problems. First of all, these foreign students often replace high-tech American workers. This is certainly not good news for those hard-working and highly experienced and skilled American middle class workers who face wage suppression or lose their jobs outright. Wages of foreign workers, unlike the wages earned by American workers don’t contribute to the U.S. economy. Generally foreign workers send as much of their their earnings as possible back to their home countries. Second, foreign student workers are potentially provided with opportunities to engage in intellectual property theft also known as industrial espionage.”
— Article in Frontpage Mag, March 27, 2018 (link)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: “Just to kind of highlight the different ways and traditional ways in which they’re pursuing this plan, Director Wray, let me ask you, what in your view could you say in this setting is the counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. national security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in sciences and mathematics?”

FBI DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER WRAY: “I think in this setting I would just say that the use of nontraditional collectors, especially in the academic setting, whether it’s professors, scientists, students, we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country. It’s not just in major cities. It’s in small ones as well. It’s across basically every discipline. And I think the level of naïveté on the part of the academic sector about this creates its own issues. They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere, but they’re taking advantage of it. So one of the things we’re trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole-of-government threat but a whole-of-society threat on their end, and I think it’s going to take a whole-of-society response by us.”
— Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, February 13, 2018 (Link)

“Australian educators are increasingly coming under attack from Chinese students, raising concerns their government’s influence is permeating our universities.”
— Article in News Corp-owned, September 1, 2017 (link)

“The war being waged by Chinese international students against politically incorrect lecturers in Australia hasn’t emerged out of the blue.”
— Article in The Australian, September 1, 2017 (link)

“Chinese students are bullying their Australian lecturers at our universities. Cancel their visas and send them all back to China today.”
— Tweet by conservative radio broadcaster Alan Jones, August 24, 2017 (link)

“Chinese students sent abroad can be used to gather industrial-intelligence information, but one of their primary tasks is to monitor groups of Chinese who the PRC view as subversive. In the West, Chinese people have freedom of speech and assembly, and this is something that the PRC finds unsettling. They have to keep a close watch on them. This is why my Falun Gong question was met with silence and fear. The two Chinese students knew that whatever they said in that room would be reported back to the PRC eventually. Neither of them had any idea what the other may or may not say to the MSS or other state security services back home. I, of course, was completely unaware of this. Nothing else ever came of the incident, and I’m don’t think my fellow students were really offended by my question, per se. But that one female Chinese student was interesting. Once in a while, as I walked the corridors of Columbia, I would catch her looking at me. I don’t think it was in a sexual way. I think she was watching me. Apparently, she had identified me as someone one might want to keep an eye on!”
Business Insider, August 7, 2015 (link)

Journalist and author of “China’s Millennials: The Want Generation.” Currently researching Chinese international students in US colleges.

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