Chinese state-backed student groups pose “greatest threat to American colleges” 

DHARAMSALA, 26 July: Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) backed by the Chinese government poses the greatest threat to American colleges, says a report published by the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal on Monday.

While the US is world-renowned for its higher-education system and the international students contribute to the cultural and intellectual diversity of our campuses, enrich the experience of the student body, and bring in-demand expertise to our institutions, China is exploiting the freedom and opportunity provided by American colleges and universities for political and economic gain, the US higher education policy think tank based in Raleigh, North Carolina has said in the report.

“The Chinese government, through its embassies and consulates in the United States, has sought to suppress free speech among visiting Chinese students, fund political action surreptitiously, influence public perception of China, and gain access to ongoing research and protected intellectual property,” it added.

Although the stated purpose of United Front Work-affiliated CSSAs is to help Chinese students become adjusted to life at American universities and provide a sense of community,  many chapter officers have anonymously reported feeling uneasy about Chinese consulate interference in their organisations, it added.

The Chinese government-backed student groups “frequently take money directly from Chinese embassies and consulates, though the monetary trail can be difficult to trace at many universities”, it added citing a Foreign Policy report.

While universities across the west have severed ties with many of China’s controversial Confucius Institute the Chinese government continues to exploit other campus organisations, and that the organisations for the Chinese students studying abroad have become increasingly entangled with Chinese authorities, the report added.

Confucius Institutes are funded by Beijing and operated by the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, also known as Hanban, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and has come under increasing international scrutiny of late.

Additionally, the FBI has in the past described the CI as a source of concern while declaring China as the most severe counterintelligence threat to the US.

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