Written by Joanna Hughes

With China and the US engaged in conflict over allegations of intellectual property theft, Washington’s latest move -- shortening the length of visas for some Chinese citizens -- has many wondering about the impact on international students. Here’s a closer look at what Chinese students have to say, along with expert analysis regarding whether the US will be able to continue to attract top talent from China, according to a recent report from the South China Morning Post.

Unchanging Plans...So Far

News that US embassies and consulates have been instructed to limit the visas of Chinese postgraduate students studying in STEM disciplines prioritized by China’s “Made in China 2025” innovation strategy begs the question: Under the new one-year limits, will students choose other destinations?

The answer is “no,” say students. “This will not affect my decision to study in the US as long as universities still admit international students. I am not interested in living in the US for a long time, but I do want to get a doctorate in the US before returning China,” Chinese student Hanna Liu told SCMP of her plans to study chemical engineering in the US next year.

Echoed David Sun, “The policy will be inconvenient, but not inconvenient enough for students to drop the idea of going to the US altogether.”

Analysts Weigh In

While students may remain optimistic, analysts caution that the outlook may not be so rosy. Not only do they think the policy will have little effect on the trade war, but they also propose that Chinese students may well leave -- taking their skills with them.

Domenica di Lieto, chief executive of Emerging Communications, told SCMP of the development, “When a student starts their journey, they’re asking, ‘What country do I want to go to and why?’ One of the big draws is, how long can I stay after I’ve studied here to get work experience abroad, and will that help me get a better job back in China."

Added China’s Millennials: The Want Generation author Eric Fish, “It will give sought-after Chinese students one more in a growing list of incentives to pursue their studies in countries other than the United States. In the international competition for talent in these crucial industries, the administration has just handed an advantage to competitors.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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