Pentagon report highlights national security risks from Chinese students and researchers
The latest Pentagon report to Congress on the “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” specifically highlights the national security risks to the United States (and other Western nations) from Chinese students and researchers studying and working abroad:
China continues to leverage foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of repatriated Chinese students and researchers, and State-sponsored industrial and technical espionage to increase the level of technologies and expertise available to support military research, development, and acquisition. China’s long-term goal is to create a wholly indigenous defense industrial sector, augmented by a strong commercial sector, to meet the needs of PLA [People’s Liberation Army] modernization and to compete as a top-tier supplier in the global arms market.
Despite these concerns being voiced over many years inside and outside the education and R&D sectors, Chinese nationals and emigrants continue to make up a substantial – if not nearly dominant in some cases – portion of undergraduate and graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, and faculty member/technician/research scientist populations in many colleges, universities, and government departments.
There are 275,000 undergraduate and graduate students from China in the United States, constituting 31 percent of the total international student body and an increase of 75 percent over just the past three years. Chinese students – nearly 100,000 of them – also make up about one third of the international students in Canada. About 90,000 Chinese students are in the U.K., while another 93,000 are in Australia, and 24,000 in New Zealand – all part of the approximately half a million Chinese nationals studying abroad, whose ranks are rising rapidly.