Trump administration considering deep background checks on Chinese students


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/03/trump-administration-consideri.html


#2

It is. That being said if it’s going to be abused the trump administration will abuse it.


#3

Chinese students are the least of Donny Two Burger’s problems.

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#4

The big question is whether this additional vetting is warranted or if it’s just another way to keep foreign nationals that the Drumpf Administration doesn’t fancy out of the United States.

This seems to be one of those places where the interests of the permanent surveillance state and a regime that panders to xenophobes co-incide.

The smaller question: how much money would the loss of the thousands of Chinese students who look to American universities each year translate into? Would universities rally against the federal government to bring the ban to a halt?

In the millions of dollars, at least. Whether they’re going to private or public universities, they (or their sponsors in China) are usually paying full-freight and then some. It would be enough to knock a big hole in many schools’ budgets, so there would be a lot of lobbying to ensure that the vetting doesn’t turn into a mass banning programme if Il Douche needs another foreign boogeyman as a distraction.


#5

Deep Background Checks? So just ask China for their gov. dossier?


#6

Oh, you can pretty much count on it not being warranted. [heavy sarcasm] Students are totally the very first demographic group you would want to embed your spies into, considering how so many of them hang around with people who have high level security clearances. [/s]. You can count on the Trump administration to kick student activists to the curb while ignoring all the good loyal Communist Party members who come here as businesspeople to have talks with American corporations about becoming their parts suppliers. After all, why go to the trouble to look up someone’s history back in China when you can just ask the Chinese government for a copy of their dossier?


#7

Most of my lab is Chinese nationals. Nothing we do is sensitive. Everything we study is published. I do not understand the point of this. Even when we work with National Laboratories, it’s not like we get to visit the facilities and leisurely explore restricted areas.


#8

To put pressure on the Chinese government on the issue of IP and business access in China, and to make life uncomfortable for immigrants and exchange students… that’s it.


#9

The higher their Chinese state social media score the less ‘desirable’ they ought to be, re visa approval.

ETA

I do not think it is paranoia to believe that the Chinese state is certainly recruiting some overseas students to report back on a range of things - some public, some probably less so if they can get their hands on it. Honestly, everyone underestimates the Chinese ability to plan strategically for the VERY long term and to deploy a vast range of short-term tactics to support this. Students as spies? A dead cert, for sure.


#10

I have several chat apps installed for talking with friends in other countries. One of which is very popular with Chinese people. To date I have received around 80 friend invites from pretty young students near me. I find it fascinating but not what I am looking for but I can imagine guys getting lured into some sort of a relationship that is compromised through shared video or photos, through clicking poison links etc’s.

I’m not saying all these girls are spies out to get everyone. Just that, it would be an effective vector of gaining trust and access in some situations.

I do assume whatever Trump does will probably punish a bunch of innocent students and miss whatever spies there are student or otherwise.


#11

UIUC has actually purchased insurance coverage for up to $60M against the potential loss of revenue from Chinese students. This is just one university, and not even a top-tier one:
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/11/insurance-markets-everything.html


#12

Then why not apply the standard to any Chinese national who’s here for anything over a week? Why students? I’m not ruling out students as spies, but there’s very little that’s special about their status as students compared to other long-term immigrants. Unless you have a constituency who constantly complains about Asians taking up college spots. But it couldn’t be that.


#13

So like Google and facebook checks, then ?


#14

Big difference between a week, and a year or four that many students spend abroad. And students may be/are funded by their state. And are perhaps more vulnerable to pressure. And get into prestigious academic/research establishments.


#15

Without saying how I know this…

Let’s just say that such procedures are warranted for the HR departments of tech companies that manufacture laptops, cellphones, etc. when hiring Chinese nationals to engineering departments.

But students? Come on. It’ll be years before they have any kind of access.


#16

Doesn’t address my question: Lots of Chinese nationals are here long term. Why not them? Why students? Prestigious institutions doesn’t mean that much in the context of secrecy. They’re prestigious because they publish, not because they keep things under wraps.


#17

China isn’t the only country to do this. I’ve had several friends from different countries who are funded by their state - my best friend during my masters program was being funded by Kuwait, and they paid for everything while he was here.


#18

Well you said “a week”. Long term visitors? Depends where but yes, quite possibly. And students for the other reasons I noted. Because they CAN be pressured into spying, probably more readily than many. The Chinses state likes to get them young and likes to have leverage. And academic institutions produce a fair amount of IP. China likes early access to IP.

I am not proposing some sort of draconian paranoid anti-foreigner measures of the kind that would no doubt be abused. I’m as anti this sort of shit as probably you are, I suspect. But China is constantly underestimated. They are not playing by Western short-term rules. I do find it credible that China has a lot more info going back to the state at home, from otherwise ordinary visitors, than is probably credited. It’s highly likely that any Westerner in China for a long time, in any vaguely interesting area, is equally under some sort of state surveillance/informal reporting process. That’s all.


#19

Yes. I went to a university with possibly the highest percentage of overseas students in UK at the time. Many state-funded. Most countries do not have the ambitions and state structures that China has. And a few students were indeed at the time well-known state ‘spies’ (the Baathists, for example - specifically here to keep an eye on their non-party countrymen/women, rather than spy on ‘us’.)

And alongside my other comments, THIS too!!


#20

Also probably a good time to point out that friendly countries spy on us as well as less friendly countries (and we on them) from what I understand. So singling out just China sounds like some TSA level political theater rather than a reasonable approach to the real threat of spying.