How much will anti-immigrant rhetoric dissuade foreigners from studying in the United States?
While some international students may be feeling anxious about studying in the United States under the Trump administration, a recent survey found that a majority of Chinese students would be just as likely or even more likely to study in the United States now. This is curious because Donald Trump has not been very warm toward China of late.
But, according to our guest on this week's podcast, there are several reasons Chinese students who come to the United States might not be put off by Trump.
One reason is that Chinese students may not feel threatened. "There's a general consensus that when Trump is talking about minorities and immigrants, somehow the Chinese students don't think Trump was or is talking about them," said Rick Shang, president of CUUS.info, an online forum for Chinese students studying in the United States. "They somehow think Trump is targeting very specific minorities and the Chinese are not part of the target."
Born in China, Shang recently became a U.S. citizen. He has spent the past decade studying in the United States and is now a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis.
Shang explained that the controversial rhetoric that Trump espoused in his campaign may not have been troubling to middle-class Chinese students.
"In China we never had the civil rights movement that has been in the U.S. for many decades," Shang said. "So a lot of issues, social justice issues in the U.S. are not obvious values among the Chinese. And a lot of Chinese still believe in some kind of social Darwinism or 'Wild West' mentality, and therefore, many of them find Trump to be somehow or in some way appealing."
Chinese students make up the largest group of foreigners studying in the United States: Thirty-two percent of foreigners studying in U.S. colleges and universities come from China. The next largest group is India, at 16 percent. In the 2015-16 school year, more than 328,000 Chinese students came to the United States, an 8 percent increase from the year before.
Listen to Shang's interview with APM Reports correspondent Sasha Aslanian and let us know what you think.
Note: The image for this story came from Marketplace reporter Amy Scott's 2011 story The lure of Chinese students.