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Intro duct ion It is unfortunate that between the initiation and conclusion of this study, the relatively routine process of sending Chinese students and scholars to the United States has moved from governmental and institutional concerns to the front pages of newspapers both here and in China.* In the course of some 18 months the subject of Chinese students abroad has become much more conducive to short op-ed pieces than to monographs, and the spring of 1988 has become an especially unpropitious time to set down any concrete conclusions regarding Chinese students and scholars in U.S. institutions of higher education. It is therefore useful to go back a couple of years and run through some of the developments in China that may have had a bearing on the policy of sending students and scholars abroad, and on the attitudes and concerns of students who are already abroad. In December 1986 and January 1987, the world was once again startled by the news from China of student demonstrations, the expulsion of some highly placed intellectuals from their posts, the dismissal of Hu Yaobang as General Secretary of the Communist Party, and what, at that time, appeared to be a victory for the "con- servative" elements in the leadership. The general concern about the *In this study, the terms China and People's Republic of China (PRO) are used interchangeably. 1
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2 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA possible effects of these actions on China's domestic reforms and on her policy of opening to the world was quickly translated into a more parochial worry: what effect will these changes have on the policy of sending scholars abroad especially to the United States, where "bourgeois democracy flourishes? And how badly was the foreign study program aggravated by the vocal support of many Chinese students already in the United States as expressed, for example, in an open letter in the New York Timesi signed by some 1,000 Chinese studying in the United States, expressing concern about the dismissal of Hu Yaobang, the punishment and criticism of some prominent intellectuals, and the "ultra-leftist" practice of labeling people arbitrarily? After all, unlike the short-lived 1983 campaign against "spiritual pollution" (the absorption of foreign ideas and life- styles through exposure to foreign printed and visual materials and contact with foreigners living in or visiting the country), this time the problem was much more serious than jeans and haircuts and the "worshiping of foreign things." The new demands of the students, especially of their outspoken leaders, were for freedom, democracy, and human rights and could be interpreted as blatant attacks on Communist ideology and the system. For example, Fang Lizhi, the fired Vice-President of the University of Science and Technology in Hefei (Anhui Province) and one of the most outspoken advocates of more independent thinking, was adamant in his criticism of the "undemocratic practices in the society" and the "doctrine of obedience" practiced by his colleagues, proclaiming that democracy embodies the recognition of individual rights.2 Other critics were only slightly more discreet, couching their demands in more appropriate language. Yang Xinguan, for example, asked why China has no problem with the importation of mod- ern science, technology, and management techniques from advanced countries, but refuses to import and absorb new ideologies, concepts, and methodologies, which are so closely linked with the development of the advanced nations. China should not be afraid of new ideas, said Yang, because "Marxists are fearIess."3 iNcw York Timc`, Jan. 23, 198G. Shim Jir~gfi Daobao (World Econonuc Herald), Nov. 24, 1986; Foreign Broadcast Information Service (hereafter referred to as FBIS), Dec. 19, 1986, p. K13. 3Yang Xinguang, `'Cultural Imports and Exchanges in the Course of Opening Up to the Outside World, Guangming Riboo (hereafter referred to as GMRB), June 7, 1986; translated in Joint Publications Research Service (hereafter referred to as JPRS), CPS-86-060, July 25, 1986, p. 4.
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INTROD ACTION 3 Understandably, articles and speeches by some of the more vocal proponents of "democracy" worried other intellectuals who feared that, coupled with the student demonstrations, they were bound to "kill the golden goose." And indeed, Beijing must have felt that freedom of speech, limited as it was to a minute segment of the pop- ulation, had gone too far. Not to respond to such attacks would not only encourage "bourgeois liberalization" but might also be inter- preted as a sign of weakness. However, the subsequent crackdown on intellectual dissent was mild by any standard and essentially limited to highly placed individuals. As for the demonstrating students, of- ficials first excused these activities by pointing out that, according to the PRC Constitution, "Chinese citizens have the right to hold demonstrations" and that student concerns were "understandable," while, for foreign consumption, insisting that the demonstrations had more to do with complaints about student housing and food than with politics. As the marches continued, however, the call went out for greater student restraint and the use of "normal democratic chan- nels." Some students expressed the view that one of the compelling reasons for China's quick decision to calm domestic concerns and to use relatively gentle means in reprimanding the dissidents was an awareness of the adverse effects stronger measures might have had on students and scholars who were abroad.4 The pacification campaign initiated by the Communist Party after the disturbances was directed primarily at two groups most sensitive to any policy changes: foreign investors and Chinese in- tellectuals. Foreign investors were assured that the policy against "bourgeois liberalization" did not contradict the policy of opening to the outside world, that the number of contracts signed and money invested will continue to increase, and that foreign investors who take a wait-and-see attitude will lose out in the long run.5 As for the intellectuals, trusted scholars and respected officials were enlisted to 4 Some students also maintained that it was their demonstrations for democ- racy that spurred Zhao Ziyang, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to call for political reforms in his October 25, 1987 report to the Thirteenth Party Congress. In the words of one student, "Our ideas were abstract and we wanted things too quickly, but the student movement had a definite effect on the whole society (Nina McPherson, "Students Say Protests Effective, Hong Kong AFP, Oct. 30, 1987; FBIS-Chi-87-210, Oct. 30, 1987, p. 21~. 5See, for example, press interview of State Councilor Gu Mu, in Acre Wci Po (Hong Kong), April 2, 1987; translated in FBIS, April 2, 1987, p. K5.
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4 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA make assurances that the fight against "bourgeois liberalization" was not aimed at then. Special attention was accorded the scientific and technical personnel, who were told that "we must never label rashly the different views and understanding over academic problems of natural science as advocating bourgeois liberalization."6 Occasional warnings that capitalist countries are no "paradise on earth" and that "Western bourgeois democracy is not a flower" 7 were lost in the flood of assurances that "the struggle against bourgeois liberaliza- tion will be strictly confined within the Chinese Communist Party and conducted chiefly in the political-ideological domain...." ~ Gen- eral Secretary Zhao Ziyang assured Secretary of State George Shultz that "the question of altering reforms and the policy of opening to the outside world does not exist,"9 while Deng Xiaoping went even further when he said that, if there are any shortcomings in China's opening to the outside world, "they are chiefly manifested in the fact ithat] the door has not been opened wide enough." it Although foreign apprehension continued to be fed by quotations attributed to innumerable unidentified ~observers" who were citing a conservative victory and, some wishfully and some apprehensively, warning that "Maoist winds are howling with a vengeance" in China, by late 1987 it seemed clear that China was not backtracking either with regard to economic reforms or to the opening to the outside world. In hindsight, however, we know that 1987 was indeed a pivotal year with regard to students studying in the United States. Until then, Beijing had grudgingly accepted the fact that a large proportion of privately sponsored students with F-1 visas would not return, but seemed confident that the government-sponsored students and scholars with J-1 visas would be coming home on completion of their studies (see Glossary, pp. 6 and 7~. In 1987 the concern began to grow that an ever-larger proportion of J-1 visa holders might also be looking for ways to remain in the United States, or at least to postpone their return. What were some of the reasons for this perceived change in the attitude of the students? There is no doubt that the student demonstrations and the v ~ 6 China Daily (hereafter referred to as CD), Feb. 28, 1987, p. 1. 7See, for example, Xinhua, Dec. 26, 1986; FBIS, Jan. 6, 1987, p. K2. ~Xinhua, April 11, 1987; FBIS, April 14, 1987, p. K19. 9 CD, March 3, 1987, p. 1. i°Zhongguo Xinwen She (China News Agency, Hong Kong), Jan. 20, 1987; FBIS, Jan. 20, 1987, p. K5.
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INTROD ACTION 5 dismissals of some academic spokesmen for democracy and freedom of speech visibly alarmed the Chinese student community abroad, albeit the developments at home may have simply provided a timely excuse and a nudge for decisions that were already made or in the process of being made. By 1987 large numbers of students who came to the United States in the early 1980s were completing their degree programs and approaching their scheduled return. At the same time, the initial timidity of Chinese students who had lived in this country for a number of years disappeared. Through personal experience and word of mouth, they had "learned the ropes" and had become much wiser about U.S. customs and laws, discovering that unless one commits a crime, neither the Immigration and Naturalization Service nor any other branch of the U.S. government is likely to search them out for deportation. In 1987 it became much more common for students to voice their desire to postpone the return decision until they were person- ally assured that conditions at home were nonthreatening and, more important, that if they returned, they would be working in presti- gious institutions and within their specialties conditions that China admittedly has difficulty in meeting. Others, apparently, do not hes- itate in expressing their desire to remain in the United States a fairly common impression among professors and college administra- tors who have routine professional contact with Chinese students. It is not uncommon for Chinese officials to lament the growing tendency among their students to be much more self-centered, more aggressive in the pursuit of their professional goals, and to show much less concern about how their decisions may reflect on their country. And looking on from the outside, one could also conclude that once again China has been unable to find the elusive "happy medium" between Mao's "serve the peoples and today's "it is aIright to be rich" slogans. In one decade, and no doubt as an understandable reaction to the Cultural Revolution, the country went from a mood of altruism to a mood of selfishness. Clearly, many of the students now abroad are missing the ideological underpinnings that might have inculcated in them a sense of obligation to return home. How will these attitudes on the part of students and concerns on the part of Beijing affect the future of sending students abroad? Ever in a state of flux, China's policies are constantly "adjusted" to reflect the nation's current needs and concerns. And because there is a significant gap between policies and ~rnplementation, each new directive and regulation spawns new rumors on the part of students
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6 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA DEFINITIONS F- 1 VISA The type of visa issued to foreign citizens who want to study in the United States at any level of school from precollege to graduate study. To qualify, a person must receive an I-20 form from an American institution that shows that they intend to pursue a full course of study in a field for which they qualify. Students with F-1 visas have usually developed their plan to study on their own or with the help of overseas relatives. F-2 VISA The type of visa issued to fanny members of a person holding an F-1 visa. I-20 A form issued to applicants for F-1 visas, which docu- ments that they have been accepted into a program offering a full course of study. This form is issued by the school administering the program and must be presented when applying for an F-1 visa. lAP-66 A form issued to applicants for J-1 visas, which doc- uments that they qualify under one of the programs des- ignated by the United States Information Agency (USIA). This form is issued by the school or other institution, such as a hospital, and must be presented when applying for a J-1 visa. J- 1 VISA The type of visa issued to persons who qualify under a program designated by USTA. Unlike the F-1 visas, the J-1 visas are not issued only to students, but also to sev- eral other categories of visitors, including research scholars, teachers, trainees, and international visitors. Most per- sons who are sponsored by the PRO government receive J-1 visas, which denote a higher level of scholarship than the F-1 visas. To receive a J-1 visa, an applicant must possess a valid lAP-66 form and is generally subject to the "two-year rule" (see below). OFFICIALLY SPONSORED Refers to those PRO students and scholars who have been chosen to come to the United States by the Chinese government and/or subordinate organiza
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INTROD UCTION 7 tions. Most J-1 visa holders are officially sponsored, but some are not. And while most F-1 visa holders are not officially sponsored, there are also a few exceptions. Offi- cial sponsorship does not necessarily mean that the Chinese government is paying the expenses of the student or scholar; many of them have fellowships and scholarships from Amer- ican sources. RESEARCH OR VISITING SCHOLAR A category of J-1 visa holder who comes to the United States to study and do research but who does not enroll in a degree program. Re- search or visiting scholars may go to research institutions rather than to universities. They tend to be older than "students." SELF_SUPPORTING Students and scholars who come to the United States from China without being chosen by the Chinese government. They are most commonly F-1 visa holders, although some ~J-1 students and scholars have also made their own arrangements. The money for their support usually comes from overseas relatives, although they also may qualify for scholarships and fellowships from American institutions. TWO-YEAR RULE An American legal regulation that applies to some persons issued J-1 visas, which requires that the person reside outside of the United States for two years fol- lowing the time in which they held a J-1 visa in the United States before they are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or certain categories of nonimmigrant visas. The con- sular officer who issues the J-1 visa makes a determination at the time of visa issuance as to whether the person has received aid from the United States government or the Chi- nese government. If they have received such aid, they are subject to the two-year rule. Waivers to this rule can only be granted by USTA. SOURCE: Adapted from David M. Lampton, A Relationship Restored: Trends in U.S.-China Educational Exchanges, 1978- 1984 (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1986), pp. 251-253.
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8 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA who are now abroad and those who aspire to foreign education, as well as misinterpretations on the part of the news media and frustra- tions on the part of foreign-student advisers and professors in U.S. universities. The first half of 1988 was just such a period, with a rash of rumors about severe cuts in the number of Chinese who will be permitted to study in the United States, student petitions ad- dressed to leaders in Beijing, denials by Chinese officials, and articles in newspapers and journals by U.S. reporters and observers. Despite rumor and confusion, there is no reason to question Beijing's assur- ances that the policy of sending scholars abroad- and specifically to the United States will survive. The Chinese may see foreign education as a source of unde- sired social change, but the knowledge and skills brought back by returning students are too important to sacrifice. Because there is no known immunization against Bourgeois liberalization, Beijing will be attempting to limit defection not by drastic cuts in overall numbers, but by changing the characteristics of the students sent abroad. Most will be PhD candidates or postdoctorate researchers, they wild be somewhat older, they will have spent some time working at home before going abroad, most will be returning to the work unit they left, and their fields of study will be less theoretical and more closely reflect China's needs and the needs of their work unit. While Chinese Embassy and consular officteab wait have more precise responsibilities in overseeing their nationals, China will continue to be cautious in taking any actions that might be interpreted as co- ercive or in violation of human rights and personal freedoms. Such actions would not only affect the morale and effectiveness of those who return under duress, but cause an unwelcome public outcry in the United States. The prunary objectives of the visit of He Dongchang, Vice- Chairman of the State Education Commission, to the United States in June 1987 were, first, to assure U.S. institutions involved in educa- tional exchanges with China that the process will continue uninter- rupted; ant! second, to meet firsthand with U.S. officials and Chinese Embassy representatives to discuss what steps could be taken by all concerned to increase the likelihood that Chinese students will be coming home. Ideally, China would like to see the U.S. gov- ernment take the lead in assuring the return of their nationals by implementing the existing immigration laws-pointing to the West- ern European nations and Japan as examples. The United States, however, is a nation of immigrants and has a very different attitude
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INTROD ACTION 9 toward the desire of promising newcomers to remain in the country. It is therefore most unlikely that either the U.S. government or the universities would be willing or able to single out Chinese students for special surveillance and possible deportation. At this juncture, no one can possibly predict how many of the Chinese students and scholars now in the United States will return and how many will manage to remain beyond the completion of their studies. It is well to remember, however, that even in the case of those who chose to remain, the defection may not be permanent. In the long run, and especially if the living and working conditions for intellectuals in China improve, the pull of family and country and/or the push of disillusionment with their prospects in the United States may induce many of the students and scholars to return home. This is not an unfamiliar pattern for students from other nations especially in East Asia. With the above perspective in mind, let us look at some of the specific study highlights. . The sending of students and scholars abroad for degrees and research opportunities continues to be an integral part of China's pol- icy to upgrade the educational system and provide the nation with the professional manpower necessary to meet the goals of moderniza- tion. From 1979 through 1987, the U.S. Department of State issued about 56,000 visas to visiting scholars and students from the People's Republic of China (Figure 1~. About 60 percent of this total were selected by Chinese institutions for official sponsorship and came on J-1 visas, which have shown a steady annual increase between 1979 and 1987 (Figure 2~. The remaining 40 percent were students with F-1 visas, who were privately supported by family and friends. As of this writing, and concerns about "bourgeois liberalization" notwith- standing, the flow of Chinese students to the United States and other countries has shown no sign of abatement and China contends that the policy will continue sin a planned way for a long time to come." ~ It is estimated that in January 1988 there were approximately 21,000 Chinese scholars and students with J-1 visas and approxi- mately 7,000 students with F-1 visas enrolled in degree programs or doing research in U.S. universities, for a total of 28,000. Since 1978, an additional 8,000 students, who came on F-1 visas, have managed to remain in this country, either by legally changing their status or simply disappearing into the American melting pot.
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10 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA Visas (x 1,000) 14 12 10 8 ~ J-1 Visas I F-1 Visas 2~ 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1 FIGURE 1 Number of J-1 and F-1 visas issued to PRO students and scholars, 19701987. SOURCE: From Table 5-1. Visas (x 1,000) 20 15 10 5 ~ 1979 1 980 Of; real Students I Scholars .............................................................. ................ ... .... . . ...= . ,.,.. 1982 1 983 1 , ~ ~~ 1 984 ......... . ... 1985 1 986 ........ . _ ' : ~ 1 987 FIGURE 2 Estimated number of officially sponsored (J-l) students and scholars in the United States. SOURCE: From Table 5-27 and estimates in Chapter 5.
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INTROS ACTION 11 Percent of Total 6 0 : ~1111 111~1~1~11111111111111~ ~ ~11~111~1~11~11~1~1~1~1~1~_ Is ~ "~ '. '."~"''''""'""'"''''''""''""''"''''"'''''''''"'""'"'"'''"''"'''"'""'''''''"'"'''''"'''''""';''''~ ~ . =~ I .......... ... ;'' "'N''"'''''''''''' ~""'''' ''''' 40- 30 ~ ........ ... 20 ~ i.. .... ......... . .. .. .............. ........... . 10 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1 985 FIGURE 3 Changes in source of financial support for PRO J-1 students and scholars, 1979-1985. SOURCE: From Table 5-5. . One of the most visible changes occurred in the sources of financial support. In 1979, 54 percent of the students and scholars with J-1 visas were supported by the Chinese government or by their work unit. By 1985, however, this proportion dropped to only 17 percent, while 57 percent of these academically competitive and highly motivated individuals managed to find funding from U.S. universities (Figure 3~. The scholars' proportion of university funding is lower than that of students, because in 1985 approximately 10 percent of their support came from U.S. government agencies and foundations (7 and 3 percent, respectively). . Reflecting China's priorities, engineering and science continue to be the dominant, but gradually diminishing, fields of specialization for both students and scholars with J-1 visas (Figure 4~. Among the privately sponsored students (F-1 visas), a much higher proportion is enrolled in business management, computer sciences, and especially in the humanities (Figure 5~. Both students and scholars are younger now than they were when the exchanges were initiated (Figure 6), but there has been little change in their places of origin, with the great majority continuing to come from the large urban centers of China's coastal provinces. In 1985 women constituted 20 percent of the J-1 students and 41 percent of the F-1 students.
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12 ~ Scow ~ ~ Peter Engineering 50 20 an o . . 1 g79 111111111111111111111111 ~ :: ~ . \\ .,. .,. . ~ 1~0 lg81 ,111 ;...;......... ~ S1Udents ~ Scholar +lllIlll+lllT ~ II 1 g82 1 983 ....) 1 gag 1 gag ] 50 20 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ s 40~) 302 /_ .. . 1 979 o Peter Physical Sciences/~hemadcs ~ Eluders ~ Scholl . ~. ~: ,; I. ~s :: :~ .] B ~ . it' 1 ~1- 1~ s 1 gag 1 gag ~ . en ~ keg ~ ~..^ I ~ 1 985 Peters SOCKS Scie~e~Humanhies ~ ruder 50 s~s~s~s~s sss~s~s~s~s~ss s~s~s~s~ss ~s~s~s~sss~s~s~sss~:ss~Sss~s~ A 40 30 Schwab ~% . ~ . .. 1 ~1 ~1- 1 ~1 ~1 alas Assess S:~! FIGURE 4 Clstrlbutlon by Geld of study of PRC J-1 students and scholars enterlog new programs lg79-lg85. SOUSE: Cow Table 5-15.
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INTROD ACTION 13 ~ F-1 1~ J-1 , ~.. ~................................... , ........................................................................................ ................................................................................... Business Management Computer Science Engineering Humanities Physical Sciences Life/Health Sciences Social Sciences . P -- I' - ~ . ~, ........................ . . - . . .. . . .5. .. _ _ .... ~//~/,///~.' .,ll, ... ..,, ., ,j..,j...,. ~ ~\~ _~_ /~................................. it. ///~/~/~''2.''' .. .. it. =_,,. 5 10 , Percent 20 25 FIGURE 5 Distribution of PRC F-1 and J-1 students by field of study, 1985. SOURCE: From Tables 5-15 and 5-16. . As China's own universities improved, expanded, and es- tablished graduate departments, the emphasis in foreign education shifted almost entirely to scholars and graduate students at the PhD and postdoctoral levels. China now projects 10,000 home-trained PhDs by the year 1990, who will then comprise the primary pool from which individuals wait be selected for postdoctoral training and research abroad. As part of this change in priorities, Beijing intends that all graduate students (including those who find independent financing) go abroad only under official auspices and that they apply for J-1 visas, which have more definite limitations on length of stay in the United States. So far, this policy has not been reflected in a reduction of F-1 visas issued by the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China. . It is estimated that between 197g and January 1988 approx- imately 12,500 J-ls and 7,000 F-ls returned to China, for a total of 19,500 returnees. At least prior to the student demonstrations in the winter of 198~1987, virtually all the officially sponsored students and scholars returned to China after completing their programs. Those who decided to remain in this country were, for the most
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14 CHINESE STUDENTS IN AMERICA Age 50+ 40-49 30-3g 20-29 =3 J-1 Scholars [pizza J-1 Students ................ ...... ... · .. ...... ...... . . .. ... ... . ............ .................. ........................ ................... ....................... ...................... ~ a: ....... ......... ....... ·. . . . .. ... ................................ ..... - . ·~ iTi~ ,~/',9/'/i///ii?/iiii!/'7;/i, . . .. . ............... ............................... ..... ...... · .................... ................. ..................... .... .. t. ..... .... -~7\ 70 60 SO 40 30 20 10 0 10 20 30 40 SO 60 70 Percent FIGURE 6 Distribution by age of PRO J-1 students and scholars entering new programs, 1979 and 1985. SOURCE: From Tables 5-10 and 5-23. part, privately funded students. Thus, the concern expressed about the "brain-drain~ issue in the mid-1980s was somewhat premature. Now, however, it appears that many of the students are taking a wait- and-see attitude and attempting at least to postpone their return to China. . Some of the new measures introduced by Beijing to increase the likelihood that new students going abroad will return include: the shifting of the responsibility for selecting students for foreign ed- ucation to individual work units; the introduction of signed contracts between the units and the individuals going abroad, stipulating the rights and responsibilities of each party in some cases requiring a guarantor to financially promise their return; the provision that grad- uates of Chinese universities spend two years working before going abroad for advanced degrees; and, at the same time, the continuation of efforts to improve the living and working conditions at home for all intellectuals. It is important to keep in mind, however, that there is often a significant discrepancy between national policies and their implementation by local authorities. This is definitely the case with foreign-study regulations. . Although there are still frequent complaints about the misuse of returning professionals, students and scholars who studied abroad
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INTROD ACTION 15 tend to move up more rapidly within the administrative and re- search establishments. It is noteworthy that most of the complaints are identical to those expressed by graduates of Chinese universities and not altogether different from laments of scholars in other coun- tries. Indeed, the misassignment of scholars returning from abroad is a real problem, but at the same time it is fair to suggest that many of the complaints expressed by the returnees are exaggerated and reflect unrealistic expectations. As the Chinese see it, one of the solutions to this problem is not simply utilizing what the students learned abroad, but making sure that what they learn is, in fact, what the country needs and is able to utilize. Consequently, while authorities hope to improve the job assignment process, they also stress the need for students to select specialties that will more closely match Chinese requirements and priorities and, while abroad, sup- plement their academic courses with as much practical experience as possible especially within industrial enterprises.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: