While the state of Louisiana is easing requirements for Chinese students to attend universities in the Pelican State, a Chinese student who wrote on social media that he could “never love my country” was expelled Hunan City University in China. Officials cited his “extremely erroneous remarks” for his expulsion from the the undergraduate program in the civil engineering department. The propaganda department at the university cited Wang Dong’s “unpatriotic” statements and “insulting” social media posts in a statement released by the communist Party Committee Propaganda Department on Saturday.

In a comment on his personal account on Weibo, China’s government-controlled Twitter-like service, the 18-year-old Wang wrote that, “loving my country is impossible, I will never love my country.” He had enrolled in his program just two weeks after his removal. 

News of Wang’s expulsion sparked a debate on China’s social media platforms, with about half supporting the school’s decision and half opposed it, according to the South China Morning Post. Wang’s Weibo account appeared to have been cleared of all content, except for a profile description, which read: “top ten patriotic youth”. An earlier version of it used the words: “this account is for criticising China.”

Censorship is increasing at schools and universities in China. Last week, China’s national government ordered that all foreign textbooks be removed from junior and middle-school, according to a report by Beijing Youth Daily. Some university professors have faced dismissal for “spreading politically harmful expressions” and other political offenses. 

Cooperation between the Chinese government and American universities and schools has come under scrutiny after civil libertarians have expressed concerns over the influence of the Confucius Institute -- an arm of the Chinese government that provides instructors at American universities and schools. Critics of the Confucius Institute have expressed concern over what they regard as undue influence on the part Chinese government in American universities. 

In Louisiana, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is expecting to boost the state’s tourism industry by promoting the state on a 10-day tour of China. In addition, the taxpayer-supported Louisiana State University will begin accepting China’s National College Entrance Examination, known as the Gaokao, as part of its application for admission, replacing SATs and ACTs for international courses. However, Chinese students would still be required to pass an English proficiency exam and an in-person interview. The state government expects that by opening admissions to Chinese students may bring in more Chinese families visiting LSU and Louisiana as tourists. 

The National Defense Authorization Act that President Trump signed into law in August contains an amendment that prohibits funding for universities that host Confucius Institutes, which the CIA has labeled a threat. According to the National Association of Scholars, there are over 100 such institutes active in the United States. The amendment was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)to restrict federal funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program. The CIA issued a report in March that labeled the institutes as a national security threat. 
According to an unclassified page of the document: 

"The [Chinese Communist Party] provides ‘strings-attached' funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light," the unclassified portion of the report reads. "It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends."

Louisiana State University has a Chinese studies program, but there is no Confucius Institute on campus. The private Xavier University -- a historically black institution -- located in New Orleans has a Confucius Institute. Public colleges and universities that have Confucius Institutes on their campus include the University of Michigan and Arizona State University.

According to a report in August by POLITICO, Trump told a dinner party that he believes that most Chinese students who come to the U.S. are engaged in espionage. Concern over such espionage was piqued this year. Ruopeng Liu has been called China's Elon Musk for his work in space technology. At just 35 years of age, Liu is a multi-billionaire. "We call ourselves the future studio," said Liu to NBC earlier this year. "We design the future." Liu has been accused by Duke University professor David Smith of stealing intellectual property. Smith works in the area of metamaterials, which have military and space applications. A former FBI counterintelligence director believes that Liu was sent on a mission by the Chinese government. Metamaterials can make aerial vehicles, for instance, invisible to microwave signals and also able to build systems that are smaller and lighter. One suggested application is the creation of lightweight radar that can be used in missles and aircraft. 
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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