Opinion: Why people-to-people exchanges between China and the U.S. are a precious asset-Xinhua

Opinion: Why people-to-people exchanges between China and the U.S. are a precious asset

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-30 21:47:45

by Xinhua writer Wang Jialin

BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Recently, some Chinese students with valid visas to enter the United States were subjected to unwarranted interrogation and harassment and deported at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Such shocking behavior disrupts these students' academic pursuits and severely hinders regular people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States, a vital component of bilateral ties.

For China-U.S. relations, the hope lies in the people, and the foundation rests on the people. Indeed, the exchanges between some Chinese and American table tennis players more than five decades ago kick-started the normalization process of China-U.S. ties. In the following years, robust people-to-people interactions have fundamentally strengthened mutual understanding across the Pacific.

Regrettably, in recent years, the United States seems captivated by victim paranoia. Some in Washington remain trapped in a zero-sum mindset that defined the Cold War and increasingly view China's development as a threat to the U.S. global predominance.

Under the pretext of national security, these political opportunists have conjured up all kinds of China threat theories in the United States and around the world, tagging Chinese companies as "thieves" and framing Chinese scientists and students as "spies."

As a result, regular people-to-people exchanges have taken a severe hit. Take the number of Chinese students pursuing an education in the United States. According to the 2023 report by the Institute of International Education, while the number of international students in the United States went up last year, the number of Chinese students declined for four consecutive years and dropped to the lowest since the number peaked at more than 369,000 in the U.S. in the 2019-20 academic year.

Also, more and more Chinese students or researchers, either studying or working in the United States, are returning or planning to return to China for work.

Ironically, while Washington hardliners seek to crush China in high-tech competition, they are inadvertently sending some of the world's top talent back to their perceived rival.

At the summit last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden decided to expand bilateral exchanges in education, culture, sports and business. What happened to Chinese students at the Washington Dulles International Airport defied the spirit of the summit.

The United States must join China in fostering -- not sabotaging -- the people-to-people exchanges between them. Carrying forward the mutual understandings reached at the San Francisco summit requires efforts from both sides. And it should start with calling off those disgraceful harassment against Chinese students.