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Chinese trend to pursue studies in United States
Liu Huijuan
8/14/2004

From when it came to power until the 1970s, the Communist Government in China has almost completely isolated itself and its people from foreign cultures. It was not until the later years of Mao Zedong when this situation began to change. Starting from the 1980s, studying abroad, particularly in the United States, has become a more and more popular choice for Chinese students. However, the general populace in China has not been very warm towards the United States.

According to political analysts, there are currently no direct conflicts between China and America. Although the United States was part of an eight-country alliance that invaded China in the early 20th century, it compensated for China’s losses in the war, constructing hospitals and universities (such as Xiehe Hospital and Qinghua University) after the war ended. During Nationalist rule, Chinese-American relationships were warm and friendly, and America sent plenty of aid to China during the Sino-Japanese War. America’s entry into World War II eventually caused Japan’s capitulation. After the Communists came to power, they placed their ideology ahead of the interests of China. They expelled the American Embassy, while fighting American soldiers in both Korea and Vietnam. At the same time, they claimed America was still practicing imperialism. In his later years, Mao Zedong realized that it would be wiser to have better relations with America while defying the Soviet Union. From there, Chinese-American relations slowly began to improve. During Deng Xiaopeng and Hu Yaobang’s tenure in power, Chinese-American relations took another step forward, and America could finally treat China as its friend.

After the Tiananmen Square Incident on June 4, 1989, the Communist government turned to attacking America, painting them as the enemy in order to stir up nationalist pride among the populace, and thus taking pressure off social problems and restoring some power to the Communist government. Under the influence of the state-controlled media, many ordinary Chinese citizens have begun to harbor anti-American sentiment. When the 9-11 attacks occurred, many Chinese applauded the tragedy and some even shot off fireworks to commemorate it.

During the war in Iraq, Chinese media selectively reported the negative effects of the war, without saying a word about America’s usage of costly smart bombs to save the lives of many innocent Iraqi civilians. On the other hand, they painted Saddam Hussein as a sort of hero for his anti-American stance, while seldom mentioning his usage of chemical weaponry that killed many innocent civilians. Nor did they mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died suspiciously during his rule. This caused the Chinese populace to believe that America had fought and killed its way into Iraq without cause, and in some cases even caused them to feel morally superior to the Americans.

One interesting fact is that all the hatred that the Chinese media have incited against America has not upset the trend and popularity of sending students to study abroad there. America still remains a good place to go in the minds of the Chinese people. Some intellectuals believe that the United States has always been against China’s oppression of free speech and believes the trend of sending Chinese to the United States is a good thing for the long-term development of China and its people. America’s technological achievements, just social systems, and it's cultural tolerance have attracted many people from around the world, including many distinguished Chinese scholars.

While everyone is flocking to the United States, the U.S. government has more strictly controlled immigration, especially since the 9-11 terrorist attack. Denial of visa applications for security reasons has become a more common phenomenon. To acquire visas, however, Chinese students have devised many methods.

One such example was printed in the New York Times. An official interviewed several dozen visa applicants, of which, nearly all stated that they wanted to become professors in the United States. However, one young man said that he came to study in America so that he could learn how to create artificial limbs, since his mother is disabled and relies on them. The official sighed, and told the young man, "Visa approved. That was the best story I've heard all morning." News traveled fast, and the next day about half the applicants used the same story.

*Liu Huijuan writes for The Epoch Times.

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