Opinion | It's Anthony Blinken at his best: Listen to his speech at the George Washington University
By Augustus K. Yeung
The problem with the U.S. is the lack of a consistent China policy. It has apparently failed to have one voice, allowing some of their leaders to say one thing only to be followed by other opposing views, complicating bilateral U.S.-China relations.
During World War II, Japan invaded Asia, including China and Southeast Asia. In China, Japanese aggression lasted eight long years, wreaking extensive havoc, looting, raping and massacring Chinese civilians by the thousands. It was a nightmare, but for America's war efforts – as exemplified by the Flying Tigers.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the Americans have failed to understand – the Chinese psyche of humiliation and determination until the later day "saints" or "saviors" came along.
President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his insightful Secretary of State established long and meaningful bilateral relations with China that were continued by President Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
However, some influential American leaders since Donald Trump have perceived China as a "threat", imposing provocative policies of "restrictions".
This article picks one example, one category of people to illustrate my point that U.S. China foreign policy towards China has been wayward – until recently Anthony Blinken made his significant speech at George Washington University.
Entered Donald Trump, Whose Impulsive Personality Style Has Left Much to Be Desired
In addition to his trade war rhetoric's, Donald Trump had cracked down on Chinese students during his presidency. The rhetoric of profiling Chinese students and scientists as "spies" and the harsh policy of restricting visa restrictions have made it increasingly difficult for them to study and conduct research in the U.S.
Academic and civil rights groups have called for reversing some of Trump's policies and relaxing visa restrictions since President Joe Biden took office last year. But the restrictions are still in place, notably the Presidential Proclamation 10043.
The order, issued by Trump in 2020, bans entry to Chinese students and researchers deemed "security threats" for alleged links to the Chinese military. Since the rule went into effect in June 2020, the government revoked more than 1,000 visas for such students in three months.
Analysis by the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University estimated that the order could block 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese students each year, representing one-fifth of annual new Chinese enrollments.
Under widespread backlash, the so-called China Initiative, which was launched in 2018 to target researchers with ties to China, ended in February. But new cases are still targeting the Chinese community in the U.S. The lingering effects of the program still haunt many Chinese scientists and their families in the U.S.
Gang Chen, a renowned professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was a victim of the China Initiative and had charges against him dropped recently, said, "We can't get rid of nightmares, and we are constantly fearful". (Xinhua.)
Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, Insightfully Welcomed Chinese Students…
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, welcomed Chinese students for their contributions, but whether the White House will truly open the door remains to be seen, an expert said.
The United States is "lucky" to have Chinese students who "have enriched our communities" said Blinken in a speech outlining the U.S' approach toward China at George Washington University in May. Unfortunately, its significance has not been fully grasped by commentators.
During his speech, Blinken said more than 80 percent of Chinese students who pursue science and technology PhDs in the U.S. have stayed in recent years.
"Welcoming students from China will greatly benefit the American technology industries, but whether Biden's White House will truly open the door and not let xenophobia get in the way remains to be seen over time," George Koo, a retired international business adviser to Silicon Valley, told China Daily.
"I have seen recent statistics of students from China applying for admissions to U.S. graduate studies, but I would not be surprised if enrollment from China has declined after years of a hostile reception by Washington."
Though Blinken recognized the contributions of Chinese students, his remarks stopped short of addressing the increasingly hostile environment that they are living and studying in, which still needs to be improved by a favorable policy.
Apparently, both Anthony Blinken and his critics have focused on the immediate impact of the American anti-Chinese student policy; none have explored the potential power that this "army" of Chinese foreign students can do and will do – after graduation from American universities.
While studying and living in America, take New York, for example, many of these "little pinks" are now an emerging "students class", having adopted the American lifestyle of bacon-and-egg for breakfast, reading The New York Times, and better able to balance the political views of leaders on both sides of the political spectrum as they have a better understanding of conditions – both political and economic – in both countries, and are, therefore, less biased and more accurate in addressing issues, formulating responses in handling bilateral relations.
Imagine: When there are thousands of Chinese students making it to America every year. In a matter of ten years, these returning graduates, or quiet carriers of American culture, are going to be potentially powerful "change agents" in Chinese society.
For example, some of these graduates will be teaching in Chinese universities, some will be working in Chinese state-owned companies; and most important of all, some of these graduates will become elites in China's political system, influencing Chinese policy making in one field or another.
A reminder: The original foreign policy architects had in mind of a strategy; slowly influencing communist China, by ushering in Western elements, rendering it closer to the American democratic system.
There is no better way than having this American-friendly "army" of Chinese graduates whose physical presence in China, and socio-cultural thinking will influence Chinese society, and serve America's purpose.
Isn't Blinken at his best for his insightful speech?!
The author is a freelance writer; formerly Adjunct Lecturer, taught MBA Philosophy of Management, and International Strategy, and online columnist of 3-D Corner (HKU SPACE), University of Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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