Much has been written about Chinese students coming to American colleges. An article out today, entitled, “Chinese applications to U.S. schools skyrocket,” starts out quoting a Chinese high schooler who is contemplating attending the University of Washington:

I know this [ambition] is pretty high,” said the 17-year old Beijing native.  “But I think I can give it a shot.”

To prepare, Duan wants to study international relations at an American college — someplace like the University of Washington. “I hear [it] is good at social science,” she said.

The University of Washington is one of approximately 10 U.S. universities Duan plans to apply to in the coming year with the help of an education consultant she hired last summer.

That got me to thinking about the complaints (yes, it has been nothing but complaints) I have heard from college students (about half of whom are at the University of Washington — but I certainly have heard the very same thing from sons and daughters of friends who attend other schools and from their parents as well, who in turn have heard it from their kids) about their fellow students from China. I am not going to editorialize at all here, beyond noting that I find these comments troubling. Instead, I am just going to set out the sort of things I have heard and let people discuss them in the comments.

I want to be very careful to note that these comments are about students from China, not about students of Chinese ethnicity. I also want to note that pretty much without exception, the students who conveyed these comments are sophisticated, intelligent, and well-traveled. They are not red-necks, by any means. In many instances, they would temper their comments by noting how the Chinese students who come from Hong Kong or Singapore or even Vietnam “are not like this.”

I have heard the following, mostly more than just once and virtually always with other students present, who always seem to join in. There is a lot of anger out there. Though I have put quote marks around the comments below, in most cases, I do not remember exactly what was said.

  • “They don’t come here to learn. They just come here for the grades.” I have heard this one at least a half dozen times.
  • “I am convinced that if our teacher asked the class what 2+2 equals, and nobody spoke up who is not from China, not a single student from China would answer.” I have heard some form of this one at least a dozen times.
  • “They are killing class discussion. They never contribute.” One student told me of how all the students not from China agreed not to speak one day to see what would happen. There was no class discussion and the teacher asked them not to do it again.
  • “I cannot even stand having to listen to them give presentations. Their English is terrible and they don’t even try. Somebody else must have taken the tests for them.”
  • “The school is going to regret having admitted them. They will never donate money to the school as alumni. It will be like they were never here at all.”
  • “You never see any of them at any school function. Never ever ever. Unless it can help them with a grade.” I am constantly hearing this one.
  • “They never make any effort to talk with anyone other than those who are also from China.”
  • “They cheat all the time. It is pretty unbelievable how often I have seen them cheating. I am always complaining to my professors about this, but they usually just act like they are too important to deign to deal with something like this. Just come watch a test being administered and it will be obvious. They are allowed to get away with it because they pay the foreign tuition rate. It isn’t fair.” I hear this one constantly as well and, needless to say, it is the one that causes the most anger.
  • “My friend with a 3.8 GPA and 650 SATs didn’t get in and had to go to ______. I know he/she would have contributed far more to the school than these students from China.”
  • “I’ve heard that most of them cheated to get in.”
  • “The school claims they contribute to diversity. That’s a complete lie. How can someone who never says anything contribute to anything? Everyone knows they are here only because they pay the foreign tuition rate.”
  • “I tried to speak with some of them, but they clearly had no interest.”
  • “This is a great way to ruin relations between China and us.”
  • “Why do they even bother? They come here to study, but since they never interact with anyone who is not from China, I don’t even see why they come.”

And again, what’s so interesting is how often the complaining students were careful to note that they had no issues with Chinese students from Hong Kong or Taiwan or Singapore or Malaysia or the Philippines or the United States, “who are not this way at all.” The above views really do seem to apply to just students from Mainland China.

I know we are going to get comments from people criticizing the students who made the above comments (and me for publishing them), but I think the more fruitful comments will address what can be done to help bridge this massive fissure. I would also love to see people address what this university-level tension portends for future China-US relations. I will note that I have heard Australia and the UK are dealing with the same sorts of issues.

What, if anything, needs to change?

For more on these issues, check out the following:

UPDATE: Seeing a comment below reminded me of something I should have put in this post. A few months ago, I spoke at my alma mater, Grinnell College. Grinnell is a small, liberal arts college in the middle of Iowa. Here is a New York Times article on Chinese students at Grinnell. It talks of how Grinnell’s admission is need-blind and of how a dozen full scholarships are set aside for foreign students. It says Grinnell usually accepts around 15 of 200 China applicants, out of total student body of about 1600 students. When I was at Grinnell this summer, I led a discussion group of maybe ten students interested in international law. Two of those students were from China and neither of them were the least bit reticent and both were exceedingly articulate, in English. In fact, one of them asked if she could go with me and my career services minder to the student union to talk some more. I have also met a number of law students from China who do not match the complaints above. So my thinking is that maybe the problem is in the numbers. If 500 students from China go to one university as undergrads, it is just too easy for them to act as set out above. But if 30 China students go to a small college that reviews the applications intensely for more than just the numbers (test scores and dollars) and absolutely will not tolerate its students not participating in class discussions or the life of the college, it can work out just fine. Your thoughts people…

4-5-2012 Update. I was just emailed an excellent (but really quite sad) piece on the Ministry of Tofu blog, entitled, “Photos: Chinese students lost in the dream of studying in USA.” Definitely well worth a look.

  • Calvin

    As a student, I can say this this is generally true for universities up here in Canada as well. Although there are some exceptions, by and large the mainland Chinese transfer student community is very insular, and do not associate outside of their own except when they can gain some sort of material or grade related advantage out of it.
    For example, the business program at my school puts equal weight on extracurricular leadership activities as compared with marks. The solution for these students is to join one of many Chinese clubs at our school, which publish their materials exclusively in Chinese and discriminate based on language on who can join or not.
    The people who have it best, socially at least, are the Canadian born Chinese or said HK/Taiwan/Singapore students, who can associate and participate with both the majority group and these insular Chinese students.
    This is just a slice of life from the current university campus scene, I don’t really have a solution for the problem. As long as the universities are run privately with the maximization of profit in mind this will only get worse.

    • TheRealSocialmedic

      Canada is known for it’s socialism, not it’s private universities. Please explain.

  • I’m sure this is obvious, but part of the problem is probably the vast difference in Chinese and American education styles. In China, kids memorize. There is no discussion. Teachers don’t focus on creative learning. It must be very strange for them trying to acclimate to American classroom life.
    Most of these observations don’t surprise me. Cheating is a huge problem in Chinese schools. The only comment that does surprise me is that the Chinese students seem so unwilling to make friends. This is so different from college students in China who are desperate to make English-speaking friends so they can improve their language skills.

    • lordblazer

      a lot of chinese students that study in the US seem to be very pro-party. likewise the chinese students from the mainland I have met that study in other countries like Japan, Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Morocco, etc.. they seem to want to learn more of the local culture and interact with more people. I think it is the type of personality that is coming to the US. They are ambitious and they probably want to join the party someday and to do that they must attend a school that is considered prestigious. They must know the right people, and say the right things, it is like this at George Washington University. If you aren’t their next ticket to a prestigious position at a prestigious think-tank or company then they will have nothing to do with you socially. Some go back once they have their master’s and take the exam to become a member of the party and once they do, they are able to make money. But I have had chinese friends from China in America that have had the exact same complaints about their compatriots as the students in the article has.

      • TheRealSocialmedic

        Pro what party?
        The USA has been oppressed by the conservative party for 35 years. People on the outside look at USA a rich country when in reality the wealth of the nation has been robbed by a few. The conservative party has not even bothered to give wealth to the returning military that has executed its imperial exploits.

    • hernandayoleary2

      Because they are just using you for your skills in english. Chinese view westerners on a whole as idiots who are giving away free healthcare and welfare money and skills for nothing. Chinese who come here realize nothing is to be gained by befriending a local quiet quickly except if it will lead to a job which will help them get more money which is their real goal of coming here.

      • TheRealSocialmedic

        I agree, they come here because life is pretty but they hang on to old values, which can only lead to the hell they escaped, rich or poor … but they have not the education, the historical background to understand what we are and how we got to be such a pretty place and unfortunately they will destroy us and our culture before they figure it out because they have learned impatience from our shitty TEA PARTY.

    • Wang

      I am a Chinese student born and raised in mainland China. Chinese people are unfriendly in general; those you mentioned to make English-speaking friends did so only to flaunt their prosperity (Chinese people actually tend to contemn their nationality and are jealous of westerners, but never bother to try to improve themselves). We Chinese think and behave in an abnormal way which does not make sense, and, in fact, does not have to make sense in the Chinese culture because no one ever cares about logic. In our culture, logic is viewed as a waste of time for everyone; those who tries to consider the logic of anything will be regarded as the mortal enemy of all, and we love to attack and destroy these common enemies together.

      • Qipao

        For the love of God, please stop representing the rest of us. You have no right. It literally burns me to see you speak of “We Chinese” , and in such a ridiculous, fabricating fashion too! Just stop. You don’t understand a single thing about Chinese culture.

    • TheRealSocialmedic

      And marry English speaking men.

  • Your post is sure to be flame-bait, so against my better judgment, I will comment anyway.
    One early intervention: I wonder how widespread this particular form of resentment you are conjuring is. University of Washington has a relatively large Mainland Chinese community with a thriving social life. Having spent a year at UW after two other U.S. university experiences, I can say people’s opinions about Chinese students were far more heated at UW.
    The resentment we see there, and in cases like the racist UCLA video and the confrontation during Olympics season at Duke, is certainly something worth understanding.
    Another observation: I have never seen U.S. students (and I was a white male one) actively welcoming PRC Chinese students, except in the confines of a Chinese language or Chinese studies program. It seems to me that a higher degree of separation in terms of social life has both causes and effects.

    • Jane H

      “I have never seen U.S. students (and I was a white male one) actively welcoming PRC Chinese students, except in the confines of a Chinese language or Chinese studies program.”
      I think in some rural colleges, areas where there are more white dominated college campuses, there are still a lot of ignorance and avoidant of people who are foreign.

    • TheRealSocialmedic

      I think we are all aware that USA has 5% of the world’s population and that the wealth of space and freedom of the USA is being imperialized by China and other third world countries, both in the Universities and by illegal immigration. Considering the USA has long debated universal health care, which most of the people fleeing from these countries have, it is rather absurd to dump the world’s poverty on a country that refuses to health insure its own 5% share of the world’s population. Until fascist conservatism in America is defeated, America represents nothing but neglect, starvation and death.

  • My experience at the University of Melboune and the University of Nottingham is 1 to 1 reflect of the above comments. And it was *the* reason I left UofM before completing my degree. I couldn’t stand listening to one more of those unintelligible presentations! It has now been 4 years and just thinking about it makes me so angry, I want my damn tuition back!!
    Solution: universities should stop prostituting themselves to Chinese student’s tuition fees. STOP ADMITTING THEM! It must be clear by now that the education they receive (again, only mainland China) is not appropriate/adequate for western university education. They will have to prove themselves in some other form besides skewed TOEFL and SAT scores.
    No one. Not a single one of them should be admitted without at least having had an interview (over skype). They pay over 100k in tuition fees over 3 years. Don’t tell me the university doesn’t have the time or resources to interview all those students.

    • Olivia Stratton

      I’m not sure presentation skills should be the be-all-end-all for student admission. Even wealthy chinese students probably can’t afford to visit english-speaking countries often enough to become perfectly fluent before college.

      Chinese culture also places less emphasis on public speaking skill in general. I’ve heard many chinese people complain that the US is too shallow and focusses too much on showmanship and not enough on content.

      Maybe having chinese students who are struggling with presenting attend workshops outside of class would be most beneficial.

  • Thinking about the students’ remarks about cheating — In a way these Chinese students are teaching Americans about themselves: we, too, will betray our own rules and ideas of fairness if there’s enough money involved.

  • I recognize a number of those comments. I used to work for a Dutch university and was involved in China recruiting. First, we could not enroll any Chinese student before the Dutch education office in Beijing had verified all their documentation. Also, we had (admittedly, soft) rules that Chinese students were to be divided over different groups, and that they could not write their papers about Chinese law, unless in a comparative context. We were just getting too much papers talking about the difference between li and fa. For grad students, they had to present regularly. Still, we got a lot of similar comments, which is a pity, as a lot of them really are talented and hard working. They just come from a disastrous education system.

  • MHB

    Hi, good post.
    I (English gent) met my wife (from China mainland) whilst we were studying for MAs at Warwick University (top 5 in the UK). She bucks the trend! She first studied at BeiWai.
    In general terms, we agreed with many of the complaints you list.
    However, my wife’s experiences are very different – several of her BeiWai classmates went abroad. She feels that the Chinese students at Warwick were of a lower standard than her classmates at BeiWai.
    All the same, those at Warwick worked hard and got decent grades, without cheating. They were conscientious – they found the advanced work in a foreign language difficult, but they wanted to repay the faith of their parents and to make their expenditure worthwhile. Unfortunately, they were largely reclusive because of this.
    Of her BeiWai classmates, several went abroad, and returned with more courage and more outgoing personalities, having thrown themselves into new activities and the social life abroad. Some were shy before going away, but returned with a new lease of life.
    I have no idea what standard Washington University is like, but the story is similar for many universities in the UK which have moderate to poor reputations.
    You have to question why students would pay vast sums of money to go abroad to a poor or middling university? Why should they be motivated? If a majority are not motivated, they will infect the others who have any enthusiasm.
    On the other hand, it’s entirely the university’s fault for allowing it – if their tests are not working and are bringing in poor quality students, then alter the tests. Look for students with a story to tell – ask them what they will do with their time abroad. Why do they want to go? Why their particular university?
    English universities have a terrible policy – they bring the students who fail to meet their IELTS grade over to England in the summer, months before term starts. They then have a crash course in English language training to pass the tests. This is a great money spinner, but it isolates all the Chinese (the majority on the crash course) before most students arrive for term. The crash course is entirely exam focused, and they have no opportunity to speak to natives. When term starts, they already have solid relationships built among their fellow Chinese. Thankfully, those who fail the course are sent home – but this is rare.

  • Chip

    Many comments hit it on the head by addressing the difference in education cultures between America and China. Due to this, it’s very difficult to address, and it’s perfectly understandable. If I were in their shoes, I’d likely behave the same way.
    Overall, the above comments were pretty much accurate to my experience at Utah State University. Another weird item I’d add to the list was the ostracizing by Chinese nationals of any Chinese student that attempted to be out-going or actively befriend non-Chinese students. I had a few friends that basically felt like an outsider among their Chinese peers because they happened to have close friends who weren’t Chinese nationals. This I feel is the saddest aspect of Chinese culture in American universities.
    The skype admission interview would be a good step, but even just a more proactive relationship with the CSSA to acknowledge these problems would be helpful.
    “The only comment that does surprise me is that the Chinese students seem so unwilling to make friends. This is so different from college students in China who are desperate to make English-speaking friends so they can improve their language skills.”
    Once they’ve been accepted to an american university, they no longer need to study English. Generally, they study English in order to get the education they desire, but once the university declares their English is good enough, there is no longer any incentive to improve.

    • eunoia

      I’m from China but I studied outside China. I still don’t have the courage to tell my Chinese friends that I had a foreign boyfriend during my high school in Singapore because hanging out with local students has already oustracized myself from my China clique.

      • Olivia Stratton

        That’s horrible, I’m so sorry.

        • TheRealSocialmedic

          I am not sure such a racist and shallow-minded group is such a loss. Such a shallow and arcane attitude. It is one thing to want to preserve culture, it is another to make it a tyranny. One would like to think people are just, not tyrants!

      • TheRealSocialmedic

        Cliques are nonsense eunoia. When I was young I was worried about cliques too. Find your passion, be it art, or music, or playwriting, whatever. Pursue people who are also passionate about that and share your passion. And they should find people who are willing to help you develop it. But if that proves cliquy too the internet provides lots of tools and options. Don’t despair it is bad for your health. Seek ways always. I still am.

  • Chris

    I studied at Chinese universities for 4 years and many of the same criticisms could be directed at the US and European students here. Almost none mixed with local students, very few actually ever learnt anything but rudimentary Chinese, most cocooned themselves in an expat lifestyle mixing only with other foreigners… At the very least Chinese students seeking qualifications abroad have the courage to attempt to complete degrees in a foreign language which is exceedingly difficult.

    • OYY

      Thanks for pointing that out dude. I’m from China and lived in Shanghai for many years where you can find many foreigners (US, European, Arabics). Very few of them would even try to learn any Chinese or any Chinese culture. They live in their own communities, go to separate schools, and sometimes act rudely in our city. I have seen a white dude put out some very vulgar and sexual gesture on the street and think himself is cool… The next thought I had was to punch him in the face…

  • “”They are killing class discussion. They never contribute.” One student told me of how all the students not from China agreed not to speak one day to see what would happen.
    I second this. In 3rd/4th year Economics, hardly any of the Chinese students spoke. Those are largely discussion classes (you read the textbook at home, then come to the discussion). There’s no ‘teaching’ going on in the class, per se. You get marked on exams and participation.
    The Chinese students were at a massive English language disadvantage. You would expect someone from Taiwan or HK to do better at this (In Vancouver, Canada, we have a strong HKese community) but I would say 90% of the discussion was from non-Asians. It’s pretty safe to attribute the remaining 10% to HKnese (better at English).
    The bigger idea here isn’t about ‘language problems’ but just a 100% apathy/lack of curiosity from the Chinese students. They’re still stuck in the old, “You study to get a job, to make money” mentality, which is not surprising, since China is very much a 3rd world country ( I live in China now, I can confirm it). It’s just gut-wrenching/depressing to think you’d devote your life to something you don’t like/love/care about. We need LESS of this mentality, not more. Want a doctor who doesn’t care about medicine? How about a lawyer who doesn’t care about what’s right? Well there you go. You get what you pay for.

    • Mei Lin Zhao

      I’m am full chinese and came to the US when I was 14 as a foreign exchange student… I find MANY of these remarks irrelevant… As a member of a STRICT family, my father tess me, “Rao, you have been chosen for a WONDERFUL experience. You must take it upon yourself to further educate the Americans about how we interact.. My dear old father passed away, leaving me to fend for my family’s honor… I decided to move back to thr US where I’ll be attending college!

  • Richard

    While the differences between Chinese and American education systems are obviously many, I think this is more of a class and economic issue.
    The first (much smaller) waves of Mainlanders who started studying abroad in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s were the cream of the academic crop and to them,an education abroad was a) generally about the value of an education and b) a stepping stone to employment/further study/life in a developed country. Many (most, according to some estimates) of those students ending up emigrating, and that was probably the peak of the PRC’s brain drain. Although numbers of PRC students in foreign universities were much smaller in the 80s and 90s, those students were often viewed as serious, hard-working, and interested by peers, professors, and employers alike.
    Today, the current crop of post-90s generation Mainlanders at foreign universities tend to be either rich, politically-connected, or usually both, as opposed to the academic elite. A lot of these kids are simply coddled elites who could care less about expanding their horizons whilst abroad, and they can get accepted to foreign (particularly American) universities with little effort as long as they can pay. For these students the whole purpose of foreign education is the status conferred by seemingly any foreign degree to better leverage opportunities in the Mainland. It’s amazing how many Chinese kids are attending Podunk State Technical College simply because it’s foreign and the degrees conferred seem to carry cache back home. I suspect the PRC kids at the Ivies are still pretty serious students, but the second- and third-tier universities are definitely attracting some of the worst China has to offer.

    • Vera0421

      Hi. Richard. I like what you said. However, I think the Mainland Chinese students in U.S. now are not all either rich or politically-connected. I think the whole group of PRC students in U.S. are two extremes now. The elite ones and the dumb ones. Sadly, the dumb ones are the ones who couldn’t even pass the Chinese National College Entrance Exam, let alone studying in a foreign culture and through a foreign language.

      • aeslehc

        Hi, Vera0421. I agree with you. I am from mainland China, and I am applying to U.S.schools. You probably can see how stressed I am reading this article and your comments. Luckily, there are people like you who have seen the real problems. The students who could not survive Chinese education and do not bother trying harder are going abroad with the support of their wealthy families. On the contrary, the elite ones not only are hardworking, but are creative (those who are boring would mostly rather stay in China). I just don’t like the fact that people are taking their views on the bad ones onto the good ones.

  • Reality Check

    You and I have talked about these issues for years so I know how reluctant you were to write this. At the same time, I’m delighted that you did because these are issues that can no longer just be swept under the carpet because doing so only feeds the flames.

  • Can’t we all just harmonize?

    Parts are a bit inflammatory but as you pointed out with your links to stories – there seems to be a growing trend, and it’s best to talk about what’s going on and possible solutions rather than censor it and hope it disappears – good post.
    I think a lot of the responsibility for the issues and possible solutions lies with the admissions departments. Schools need the money, but at the same time they should be doing more to ensure better integration. I think one of the most effective ways to do it would be to make sure transfer students can speak English well.
    If you go into a new country without the language skills – you can’t be surprised to see people sticking to their own (just as we see with many foreigners in China), they’ll be extremely uncomfortable contributing during discussions, and of course they’ll have a tough time presenting. Maybe it doesn’t fix everything, but it’ll definitely make integration easier. As mentioned by a few others – make sure the entrance interview includes time on Skype and not just test scores.

  • Nathan

    Consistent with my own study experiences in Australia. Part of the problem is because they’re ‘fresh off the boat’ so to speak. A recently graduated high-school student leaving China to study overseas is hardly going to be contributing to robust American style debate in a classroom environment. In all likelihood many of these wallflowers would be more vocal given a few years to adjust to the environment.
    There is virtually no debating or presenting in the average Chinese classroom which often consists of 50 students or more. This is as much for practical reasons as cultural. It’s not a habit that changes on the overnight flight from Beijing.
    Having acknowledged the problem being as bad as it is, it seems to me the obligation is on the receiving institutions to address. Clearly it’s being ignored.
    The cheating though…that’s a tough one.

  • Andrew

    “At the very least Chinese students seeking qualifications abroad have the courage to attempt to complete degrees in a foreign language which is exceedingly difficult.”
    Courage? Why does it require courage? 1) Most Chinese students want a foreign qualifications to set them apart in the workplace; 2) Many expect foreign universities to be as easy as most Chinese universities–just memorize the texts and you’re good; 3) Many have parents with the money to stay in as long as necessary to get their degree.
    Finally, yes, expats in China often have trouble mingling with local Chinese. But in my experience they have no trouble mingling with other Westerners, Indians, Africans, Japanese or SE Asians. And even part of this difficulty may be attributed to the fact that it can be hard to know whether a local wants to be friends or just wants to practice his English.
    Chinese students in the States generally mingle with no one except for other Chinese–ignoring Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and, as has been mentioned, other Chinese who are too friendly to foreigners. Oh, and they still call the locals “waiguoren.” Aren’t _they_ the waiguoren now?
    I’m not particularly impressed with that form of courage.

  • Angel

    I guess it really depends on the person itself. I’ve been studying in the states for three years ( I’m from China). Actually, most of my close friends are from the states. I’m active at the school because I love to get involved and meet new people.
    It’s probably hard for most of the Chinese students to speak up in a class because they already have got used to the style of the Chinese education for so many years (which is not good for students). However, I won’t say it’s a common thing, because we can still see some outgoing and active Chinese students adapting themselves to the life and school style in the States.
    They have been working hard, and it is really unfair to think of them in this way.

  • While at Stanford, I can say that my experience with mainland Chinese students has mostly been superb. Most of them actually have superior English skills — so I’m not sure what people are talking about when they diss their language skills. Especially in technology and math, they are far, far better than most of their classmates. And incredible work ethic!
    And yes I’ve had some surprisingly bad experiences with a certain mainland Chinese student who didn’t have the requisite skills, work ethic for his supposed area of technical expertise. His English was in fact great, and he expressed himself with arrogance.
    Overall, I’ve been impressed.

    • eunoia

      It’s extremely hard for Chinese or rather Asians to get into Stanford. I have friends who used to get straight As in high school ended up in UC or universities worse than UC. Those Chinese in Stanford are the best out of elites. The complaints Americans have about Chinese from mainland China are for those in average colleges or universities.

      • TheRealSocialmedic

        I think you are ignoring the reality of the rising billionaire class in china it is easy for any kid of a billionaire in any part of the world to get easy access to any university in America and they will, bought and paid for, buy a record of hard worker for you even if you did nothing but be born of a whore. Thanks to the billionaire class no work ethic exists in America. Our country is at fault for this. Just find your passion and keep working at it. FUCK the grades. Fuck what everyone else gets. Resources are available to you that I never had when I was growing up. IF the American conservatives have their way soon there will be no Stanford, no universities, no art, no culture, only workers. Slaves.

  • Chris

    @ Andrew: “I’m not particularly impressed with that form of courage.”
    I’ve met only 1 European who has had the grit to complete a full degree in Chinese at a Chinese University. No Americans yet. My point was that the behavior of Chinese students abroad should be compared with the behavior of foreign students in China. Almost no US or European students in China make it beyond elementary language classes, much less go on to academic programs delivered in Chinese — despite what would be significant career advantages in doing so. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and other Asian students are flocking to Chinese universities (over 100,000 in 2010 on academic programs) to undertake full academic qualifications in Chinese. US & European students rarely get beyond taxi & bar level Chinese. In that context, it is indeed courageous for Chinese students to attempt to obtain full qualifications in a foreign language.
    On the Chinese student issue, I work with quite a few graduates of overseas universities. In general, they have benefited greatly from their time abroad and demonstrate greater confidence and higher levels of initiative than colleagues who have been domestically educated.

  • I’d have to agree about the cheating. I’ve seen it time and again, both in the US and in China. If they don’t get caught, it didn’t happen. That’s not to say that people in/from other countries don’t cheat as well, but there didn’t appear to be any real stigma associated with it among the Chinese (unless they were caught). Sadly, I find this attitude to be prevalent in Chinese business culture as well.
    Me: Why do you cheat? It’s wrong.
    Them: Everyone does. Why do you care?
    Me: Aren’t you ashamed to do that?
    Them: No. If I don’t, the people who do it will just do better than me.
    Me: But it’s wrong.
    Them: Mei ban fa.

  • Tim

    I’ve taught in Chinese universities, both in Chengdu and Qingdao; worked as an international student & scholar adviser at George Washington and opened a Princeton Review branch in Shanghai.
    There are a number of elements that add to the negative generalizations regarding Chinese nationals studying abroad and not all of them are issues with the Chinese themselves:
    Socially inadequate to adjust to living abroad. Many have spent a significant portion of their formative years on a strict regiment of study. They have had little time devoted to activities (sports, playing with friends, dating, part-time jobs, etc.) that would develop their social skills; these are often areas that are improved upon in Universities and during the initial stages of their career.
    Strong sense of entitlement. This has, in fact, become a serious problem in the US educational system as well; however, in China and in fact many other Asian countries, many of the Universities treat matriculation to be almost synonymous with graduation.
    Lacking integrity. This is also a real issue for US students as well as cheating is not the exclusive domain of Mainland Chinese. However, one of the Princeton Review’s largest problems with its test prep program in China, aside from the astronomical fees, was that it did not teach students how to cheat on standardized exams and so was not considered a good value for the money. Cheating is rampant and this goes to the heart of China’s struggle with the civic consciousness of its people. Local friends and colleagues have often told me that it was all right to lie and cheat as long as you do not lie and cheat your family. There is an impression that the system is established to work against you so identifying ways to game the process is the only way to move forward. This, by the way, is not unique to China but rather often an issue for people living underneath authoritarian regimes.
    Poor critical thinking skills. The education system in China relies heavily on an centuries old pedagogy, which stresses wrote memorization and that the teacher’s position and opinions are paramount. Many in China are aware of this problem and their are exceptions to this that are challenging the system; however until the importance of the gaokao is augmented by other criteria for determining a student’s qualification to attend college, this will be difficult to change.
    Strong affinity for ones own culture. This also an issue for quite a few foreigners in China who spend most of their time with others foreigners; however, for the Chinese students, developing these relationships in college will be critical to their network back home. And they know it. These cliques can also be rather strict in terms of monitoring their members fraternization with non-Chinese.
    Stereotyping of Asians. There are underlying stereotypes about both Asian men and Asian women that affect how they will be treated in the States. And it is distinctly different for Asian men and Asian women. These stereotypes can make it very difficult for Mainland Chinese with little to no multicultural experience to adjust to and has a tendency to drive these students into ethnic/nationality cliques. This applies not just to Mainland Chinese but I’ve also witnessed this with Koreans, Thai, Taiwanese and other Asian groups.
    Inadequate resources and methodologies deployed by US Universities to qualify Mainland Chinese students. Many Universities in the States take for granted that the education systems in other countries work the same and thereby prospective students are familiar with the rules of the process. That is simply not true and leads to applicants being accepted that can barely speak English let alone read or write.
    Lack of robust orientation programs intended to assist these students with adapting to life in a US University. Although GW had an orientation for all international students and the occasional program to assist students with specific issues (relationships, study habit, etc.) there were no specific programs targeting mainland Chinese students who would specifically benefit from a bit more attention to the challenges of culture shock. After all, the States is going to be more of an adjustment for a Mainland Chinese than someone from Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong.
    All in all, the complaints and resentment of US students above regarding Mainland Chinese is in many ways the responsibility of the particular institute. If you are going to target Mainland Chinese because you need the foreign tuition or want to improve diversity then it behooves you to assist these students with adjusting to their new home.

  • Brave post, Dan. I think we need to hold the US universities accountable here, since a large percentage of these students from China do not seem qualified and prepared to attend competitive American colleges. This criticism has nothing to do with their level of intelligence- many of them are brilliant- and has everything to do with their inability to speak and write persuasively in English, their reluctance to participate in class, and their weakness in critical thinking. The schools are accepting these students because of the gravy they bring with them- they pay international tuition rates and they pay in full. The professors are passing these Chinese students to keep the administration happy and to ensure that the gravy continues to flow for the sake of their own paychecks. This issue with non-performing Chinese students in America is just another symptom of our incredibly flawed and greedy higher education system.
    In the interim- before higher education undergoes a massive transformation- I would propose that each of these Chinese students be required to participate in a face-to-face interview as part of the admission process; this can be done either in person or via the computer. The interview should test their ability to craft an argument and think independently, as well as their grasp of the English language- prep questions should not be offered in advance. Additionally, once they have enrolled in school, if they are unable to perform in class at the same level that everyone else is expected to perform, they should be dismissed. There should be a real-time writing component to this as well, rather than the standard entrance essay. With all of the technology available to us today, this shouldn’t be so hard to do.
    There is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs here. If moneyed Chinese are going to continue to insist that an American education is the best education (and they are), then more tuition/private schools in China need to be set up to prepare these students to speak/write excellent English, engage in creative and critical thinking, and speak in class! Unfortunately, I fear that this type of school will just end up falling under the predatory umbrella, taking further advantage of these students while offering minimal returns.
    I feel bad for these kids. The universities are using them for their money, the American students can’t stand being in class with them, and their own homeland and parents hold incredible expectations over their heads without actually preparing them for life. Going to college in America is probably a miserable experience for them- not the best way to strengthen diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China.

  • Had Enough Too

    Great post. I think what we are seeing here is a dichotomy between those schools that consider the whole student and those that consider just the numbers. Those that look only at the numbers are getting students who seem to have nothing beyond the numbers and even their numbers are suspect. That is why the state schools (even the best ones) that are so bound by the numbers are the ones having the most problems. They need to do more than just require Skype interviews. They need to judge the whole student and they need to prepare their Chinese students before they actually start taking classes and they need to allow their profs to grad on class participation in a way that will force everyone to participate.

  • HI

    The cheating is not a recent phenomenon. I saw it over 20 years ago, from students who were bright enough not to have to do it. I really think they saw nothing wrong with it.

  • Phil

    I share Aimee’s views. I have been on both sides of this issue having been in a US LL.M. program in 1998-1999 with about 60 foreign nationals out of 90 students. The PRC students generally lagged behind but only because their English skills were not as advanced. They, as all studends did, worked very hard. Today at least in Beijing most students come to the university with six years of reading and writing, but little conversation. Some students where I have taught over seven months in the last two years are actually quite fluent; and for the LL.M. students can probably do well here. Second, the cultural divide for mainland Chinese is huge, but they are eager to catch up. Professor Jasper Kim of Ewha Women’s University wrote a thoughtful article in the 2009 APLPJ regarding the switch from a Confucian to Aristotelian law school model in several Asian countries. I commend the article. It has not been easy. Finally, I find much of the anger to be a mix of predatory American university practice, jealousy by American students who wish they could have it easier, and a pathetic lack of understanding of China and what the PRC students face. As one comment points out, few Americans learn Mandarin. America is so alone in some ways. While Americans seem to find it so easy to criticize the Chinese, I find the Chinese to be very respectful of America.

  • PaulR

    I would rather have 100 Mainland Chinese students at my school rather than one rich _______.

  • Kaiwen

    @Chris (the Chris with no url)
    “Almost no US or European students in China make it beyond elementary language classes, much less go on to academic programs delivered in Chinese -despite what would be significant career advantages in doing so”
    I concur that the ratio is exceedingly small (I might add that I have met a few African students taking an undergrad in the PRC); however, I must disagree–inasmuch as I think as I understand what you’re getting at–about the career advantages. I think that, barring a very specific application, most of these US / European (a.k.a non-Japanese westerner?) students would benefit much more from taking a degree at a competitive Western university, preferably one with a good program in their area of interest. In my experience, the overall quality of university education in the PRC is just not there.
    I studied teaching Chinese as a Second Language in a program designed for native speakers, with regular Chinese undergrads for classmates. It is considered the best program for CSL pedagogy in the PRC. The reading load was neglible (I took 1st, 2nd and 3rd year classes), and class discussion was almost non-existent. I took the first seminar class ever offered by my school (by a prof with a linguistics MA from the US), and it consisted of 5 minutes of the prof asking a few students (off the roll call list) to answer his questions, then an 80 minute lecture.
    For a perspective on local graduate school in China, from an American who actually did a degree there, see

  • Chris

    RE: I would rather have 100 Mainland Chinese students at my school rather than one rich _______.

    A lot of the mainland Chinese students you see in foreign universities are the “rich ______” in China. Where do you think a lot of those fruits of corrupt officials and business elite are spent? It’s not all spent on Bentleys and Lambos tooling around your local CBD or conspicuously parked in front of a 5-star hotel in (insert Chinese city). I think we’ve all met our fair share of princelings,who has a daddy in the government making an official salary of a few thousand RMB a month, living like a Rockefeller “studying abroad.”
    cue the wu mao dang….5…4…3….2… 🙂

  • Jon F

    I am an American currently working in Shanghai. I spent a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing studying Chinese. In addition to our normal language courses, we were encouraged to audit “normal” courses outside of the language department. Maybe this is not the norm, but the social science and humanities courses I audited at Tsinghua had a good deal of discussion and presentations. The American History course was really interesting.
    My Chinese is not terrible, and is certainly sufficient for communicating in everyday life, and I can even chime in on some advanced topics in a coherent way (sometimes). I passed the HSK level 7. But there is a big difference between speaking 1 on 1 or with a generally small group of people and participating in a class discussion with native speakers. There is sometimes a very real very paralyzing sort of fear that accompanies addressing a class of your peers with your own limited language skills. You become afraid you did not completely understand what ideas your peers were communicating or the nuances of the discussion. And if you do participate and utterly fail to communicate the ideas you wanted to it can really dissuade you from trying again.
    This is not to excuse some of the other items discussed in the post, but I just wanted to say to the Chinese students at Tsinghua I might look just like the Chinese students in America (besides the cheating) 🙂

  • William

    When I was at the University of Virginia (within the last decade), I noticed the insularity of the mainland Chinese community. I didn’t notice the other problems you have raised, though that could be because of U.Va’s high admission standards, severe punishment of cheating, and relatively modest (albeit growing) numbers of Chinese students as a percentage of the student body. But I can certainly believe in the validity of the complaints raised by the students you’ve met.
    Whenever I have the chance to talk with Chinese students getting ready to attend college in the US, I urge them to make non-Chinese friends, though of course it’s fine to get acquainted with their compatriots.
    All that American universities can try to do is mitigate the problem by trying to screen out unqualified or dishonest applicants. The problem can only be truly solved in China, and that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

  • dan berg

    Great post – the ones you hesitate about always seem to be the best. Having read ALL of the thoughtful comments (another sign of a good post) I would only add: I have taught economics at a Chinese university for 7 years and I brag BRAG that occasionally my classroom of 50 Chinese students raise their hands and discuss for the entire 2 hours. It aint easy for them (or for me) but they discover that they can do it – it feels good, gets easier, time flies. But its also risky in all kinds of ways. A typical economics professor at UW has absolutely no incentive to try to get these students to open their mouth – so they dont.

  • Mick

    All true, but don’t blame the students, they are just doing what their education system and Tiger Moms have programmed them to do. The universities and governments are to blame and it is all to do with money. In Australia at least, the government cuts university funding again and again, and hectors the colleges to do more with less. University managers see an easy revenue stream from eager applicants form the PRC. They turn a blind eye to fake application documents, poor English skills and the fact that students are often just there to get the grades, not participate in university life. They also actively suppress concerns about plagiarism and cheating. Chinese students are sacred cash cows. The universities are happy, the PRC parents are happy, the only ones unhappy are the local students who feel resentment for precisely the reasons portrayed here. My nephew from China also expressed many of these sentiments when he attended a second rate university in the UK that is popular with Chinese students. He moved on after a year to a less ‘popular’ university with only a handful of PRC students, and has thrived, making friends with students from Europe, Africa and India as well as locals.

  • Jon Anderson

    I work with a lot of college students and have heard some of this. However, these chinese students are highly motivated to succed and often the schools are at blame for not properly orienting them to the “western education model”. I know a number of schools such a Purdue University, with a high ratio of PRC born students, is revamping its approach to first year students to get the culturally adapt quicker. Some of these comments reflect the great disparity between the two education systems and cultures as well. I taought a class here for a mixed group of Chinese and Canadian students that was a laboratory initally for cross-culturall misunderstanding, but with work it got sorted out.

  • John

    The simple matter of fact is that Chinese students whose parents happily pay the foreign tuition rates your schools are so hungry for DO NOT need to learn English. If western universities were serious about educating them (or you, for that matter) they would conduct parallel programs in Chinese so that the graduates can go back to China and apply the education in an environment where English is a job requirement for PERHAPS 15% of them.
    The first university to wake up to this blatantly obvious truth is going to make a lot of money…and actually educate somebody in the process. Meanwhile, with your schools given the choice between cashing in on PRC students and giving you your own parents’ moneys worth, who do you is going to win?

  • LH

    I taught computer science at a big 10 school in the U.S. for some years, and had a number of Chinese students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as students from Taiwan, Korea, and other parts of Asia.
    Regarding cheating: I don’t buy that the Chinese students cheat more than other nationalities. It’s not as though I have no first-hand experience in the matter either. I’ve had to adjudicate a number of cheating cases in my own classes, and they range from students cooperating on projects that were intended to be individual (but were done improperly as a group), to organized cheating on tests (by sitting in a certain pattern so that the dunce(s) could see the smart students’ papers) to plagiarism, you name it. I didn’t see a shred of evidence that the Chinese students cheated more than the Americans or other nationalities. There was a LOT of cheating, I may say, so much so that I found it dismaying.
    They may well have cheated on SAT tests or TOEFL exams. I must say in regard to this, however, that the real problem is that the Chinese are fantastically gifted at rote memorization, so you end up with some number of them that can genuinely ring up a tremendous score on a standardized exam while seeming to have no ability to apply their knowledge. They seem to know very little in practice. I’ve seen this a million times. It’s baffling to an American mind. What it argues for is getting rid of the SAT and similar tests as admission criteria, and that’s what the University I taught for was moving towards.
    I think it’s quite unfair to come down on them for not socializing. Why is socializing better than focusing on doing what you came to the U.S. to do, even if that’s only to get a degree and some other resume material? I’ve traveled the world over and I am forever running into Americans who travel abroad, check into an American hotel, eat American food, and return home with complaints about what a terrible place it was to visit. This happens with every nationality; there are relatively few people on the earth who are genuinely able to identify with and merge themselves into another culture and take it on, really connect with the people of that country, etc. It’s rare. In any event it’s not a requirement for a college degree.
    Chinese graduate students are disproportionately represented among the top achievers at the best U.S. institutions. Along with Indian students. Pick up a faculty directory for MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, etc., and read the professors’ names. Plenty of Chinese names in there. They didn’t get into those posts by cheating.
    In classes where class participation is critical to the learning experience, students who don’t participate should get an F. That would fix the problem in one semester.
    I think there’s a good argument for state schools in the U.S. thinking harder about what they owe to the students of the state itself (i.e., the Americans living in the state who built the school with tax money). Those schools are slowly becoming private schools, i.e., the fraction of their budgets that come from tuition keeps going up. That’s a sea change and it needs to be thought through.

    • eunoia

      There ARE a lot of Chinese cheating when applying to US colleges. They cheat on their high school transcripts! I know this because I’m from China and I finished my secondary school in China. The school would create a fake transcript for students applying overseas universities. TOFEL scores are also fake! There are professional TOFEL exam-takers who can score incredibly high for students who pay them and there are even agencies writing personal statement for students as long as they get paid. I don’t know how am I going to get admitted using my real SAT score and personal statement written by myself. It is totally unfair.

      • Allen Yang

        I am not aware of the situation you were talking about at all. I do not
        know which part of China you come from and i come from China too. I only heard that there are people who seek help for modifying their personal statements. It is more like correcting grammar mistakes. There are people cheating, yes, a lot of Chinese ? big NO NO.
        Your high school can create a fake transcript? Really???Are you kidding me? ?? I am so surprised. It is the first time I heard about this. Your high school must be a low quality one with corrupted admins. And you must come from some undeveloped area in China. Because I know for sure those things do not happen in cities like Shanghai.

        And somehow I know why your China classmates do not like you as you mentioned in your previous posts.

      • Teresa

        It is unfair when cheating on applying to US colleges or transcript. I studied in my country and also finished my secondary school and high school, then it is very difficult to study once your going abroad to study. Also, studied English in order to be accepted by any American or UK universities / colleges, you will find no longer need to study English once accepted by American or UK universities.

      • TheRealSocialmedic

        I am so glad you contributed this Eunoia because I paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend one of our top universities only to find we HAD to pay attention to students who could not speak a word of English, which is kind of necessary if you are in a highly restricted seminar where only a few students are allowed and you cant understand what the person of the presentation is saying. It is hard to blame one of the world’s most prestigious schools for the problem. Considering the scrutiny I went under, well, I thought they were deliberately taking unqualified students. None of these students would have been there if they really passed TOFEL, which I am confident you can. Best of luck to you. You belong in a real democracy and a GREAT university!

  • WilliamL

    IMHO this a a mutually “abusive” relationship between the colleges (gets the funds form student) and the Chinese students/families (who goes home with their foreign degree and the status attached with it)
    I am an ethnic Australian-Chinese and did my master degree in a local university; Your post pretty much sums up my experience with PRC students. My English wasn’t great but some of these Chinese student English are so bad that I have to re-write the group assignment by myself so at least the group can get a decent mark. As alot of comments pointed out its university’s fault with their admission process. I really think that academic should have the balls to fail students if their English is not upto a certain standard. Don’t think its going to happen as it just opens a can of worms that no one like to touch. (E.g. UCLA student video – legitimate social concerns presented REALLY POORLY!)
    Oh and this isn’t an exclusive PRC student problem and happens to other nationality as well. I did my group assignment with a PRC and Thai student – neither of their English are upto stretch. Sure, maybe grammar doesn’t needed to be perfect (I know mine isn’t!) but if you have to start “guessing” what the students are saying than maybe you should draw a line somewhere.
    I can understand PRC student perspective: If you never going to use the language again once you pass your degree – why bother devote time & effort? I am reading Factory Girls (thanks to recommendation on this blog) and it sad to see PRC students have the same mentality towards university as if its a “degree factory”.
    BTW off the tangent education problem, this is a great video from RSA:

  • vitruvianman

    At a monthly salary of us$500, I took on the responsibility of running all English Language courses for the Graduate Department at a top level public University in one of China’s biggest cities. ( I designed the curriculum, delivered all the classes, managed, tested, and graded each and every student ). It was my choice. I could’ve simply followed the status-quo.
    Aware of all the realities above mentioned, I focused my time, energy, and money on making sure my approach somehow improved all those ills. I designed my own textbooks for class. I went to the best professional printers and negotiated the best possible prices for my students. Each class of 2 hours, 7 times a week, in a classroom for 70 students, soon became very popular. There were always a few visitors from other departments, sometimes from nearby Universities! I didn’t mind…I took it as a compliment. Instead of getting help of any kind from the department…I soon found stacks of chairs for the extra students who didn’t have a desk, and their names hand-written on the attendance list.
    If I wanted the deparment to make one copy for me, I had to climb up to the fifth floor of a building with no elevator and use a machine that was built in the 80’s. If I wanted to make several copies, I had to give a week’s notice to the school and then collect the expense from each student. I decided to use my own money and go to the local print shop and just do it!
    The classroom is nicely equipped with a computer, projector, mic, and audio system. I made sure to take full advantage of that equipment. The level of interaction between teacher-students and between students was very high. I designed my final exams in such a way that memory skills were not a must…thinking, intuition, and critical skills were.
    While most Chinese teachers were able to grade their final exams in a few hours by simply adding scores from multipe-choice answers to a spreadsheet…I devoted an entire week to get through all my final exams.
    …I did that for a few years simply because I truly was enjoying the process and the feedback from students.
    Then at the beginning of a new school year I was removed from my duty and replaced by a new teacher ( local Chinese ) because he was cheaper than me (this was told to me behind doors). It didn’t matter that such teacher carried an extensive list of negative reviews by peers and former students.
    But…when in Rome…so I continued teaching at the same institution to a different set of students. Then one day, right after I had finished grading my 200+ final exams, one by one, I decided to get some dinner at the closest western-friendly restaurant on campus. There I found the teacher I was replaced with, sitting at the biggest table in the restaurant, with two bottles of french wine and 4 glasses. When I looked more closely, he had a stack of final exams in front of him.
    Across from him was sitting another Chinese teacher from his department. She was going through the final exams, while the teacher was on the phone. A few minutes later, two young foreigners -students- joined them and began to go through each final exam as well. To my shocking surprise these two foreigners did not speak clear English. When I asked them…they were from an Eastern European country. The two foreigners -students- from a non-native English country continued to grade the final English exams for the Graduate Program!, while the teacher continued to drink french wine and talk on his phone. All out there in plain site for everyone to see….mind you that most restaurants in China have private rooms.
    …that day I lost my passion for teaching in China.
    So, before we blame the students…let’s remember what teachers in China are doing.

  • Real Husky

    I am enjoying this discussion. It reminds me of the discussion that accompanied your post on service in China. Both on this on and on that one, you get the people who know what they are talking about and they all agree with you. But then you get the people who want to believe a certain thing (let the facts be damned) and so they disagree. I am an undergrad studying economics at UConn (we are the real Huskies) and what you describe above fits this school exactly. When I read it, I felt like you had just interviewed me and my friends.

  • When I did my undergraduate degree there were no Chinese students in my class, however when I studied my master’s at CCLS in London there were a few. They seemed to be pretty involved in class and also in social settings, I found their occasional cliquishness understandable given the natural need people have to be around people who share their culture, and they never seemed to actively exclude others – they even threw a Chinese New Year party and invited everyone to it, which I thought was a very nice gesture. I never heard of any instance of cheating whilst I was there.
    I do, however, think it is important to note that this was during the time when most UK universities were only accepting people from the top 5 Chinese schools, that these people did not come exclusively from China’s ruling class but many were professionals trying to further their careers, that there was no severe ethnic divide – i.e., the class was not divided into one half British and one half Chinese, but consisted of people from many countries, with British only being in a weak plurality. I think it might have been very different had the class been selected from amongst those Chinese university graduates nation-wide who are rich enough to pay British tuition fees, and had there been a pronounced ethnic divide in the class.
    Anyone familiar with the average Chinese university knows this situation – you discover that students have been cheating, you mark them down for it and report them, but nothing happens. The explanation in almost all cases is that the student has either paid a bribe to the university authorities, or the university believes it is in their interests to ignore the report. I had classes where 90+% of students would submit essays downloaded from the internet – I later discovered that their university lecturers had advised them on how to do this, because in fact that was how they “wrote” their research papers.
    The same standards could be seen in the taking of the TOEFL/IELTS etc. exams. Students were left in the same room together without an invigilator during the test, and unsurprisingly emerged with top marks even though they could not even string a sentence together. If these are the tests that are being used to ensure that students can speak English then it is no surprise to hear the complaints expressed above.

  • anon this time

    Rarely does anyone consider the sort of students Chinese find themselves among. The more eager Americans are interested in knowing about China, but some do so in such a ham-fisted way. Veiled (or often not) comments about lack of freedom in China, communism, give us our factories back, how the Tibetans suffer, etc. God forbid that alcohol is involved, as it usually is.
    One thing I really really enjoy about Chinese students is that they have a filter. They are not likely to just *open up*, talk-radio style, and let you know what they *really* think. This sort of thing is prized among Americans, but unfortunately it’s often the more loutish among us who do it, or those who really want to show you where they stand on X topic. They then “demand” that their target listener (I hesitate to call it a conversation) be thick skinned. That is the polar opposite of Chinese culture. The Chinese students I’ve had live in fear of being asked to speak for all of their country’s short-comings, or to discuss things they have been raised to avoid discussing, and then to do so with relative strangers who speak directly. And it eventually comes to that, always. What American teen would like to go abroad and be ready to articulately and comfortably speak (in Chinese, Farsi, Spanish) about the very serious problems that have plagued our country, at one time or another, over the past few decades?
    I teach in a feeder program that prepares foreign students for a large university here in my town. I’ve been at this for awhile.
    Also, I attended a Chinese university full-time for a year, but not as an exchange student, I was learning Chinese full-time. I was amazed at how insular the other foreigners in my class were. All of them, but in particular the Koreans and the westerners. They could be counted on to miss class regularly and to have a very poor grasp of the language despite being in China for the express purpose of “education”. My classmates were out taking pictures of their food, or hitting the clubs with a religious fervor. We Americans by and large chuckle and chalk it up to youthful exuberance and “feeling one’s way” that younger American students abroad just drink themselves silly, hook up and get little in the way of real (whatever that is) intercultural exchange and language learning done, but why not extend the same grace to Chinese here?
    Finally, let me say that for all the supposed anxieties about these new students, none of the Chinese are storming the registrars office at gunpoint, demanding that those very very large wire transferred be accepted at once!
    Kudos to Dan for easing into this discussion, but on this topic at least, I feel Chinese people are getting – from the media, including most of our “serious” institutions – an unfair shake in many regards. A lot of this is deep-seated economic, social, and yes, racial fears that we supposedly had exorcised, coming to the surface. People are so quick to label others are insular, okay that may be the case. But Americans are so myopic about our own insularity and prejudices, and how they express themselves in ways subtle and myriad

  • China Student

    I am a Chinese student in America and thank you for doing this. I know this is how many American students feel about us and I think they are a little bit right. I know that on Twitter there are those who say this article is racist but that is not true you are just having the courage to repeat what American students are always saying about us and I agree with you you about how it is important people hear these things and so they can discuss them. I love America and I think it is the American way to air dirty laundry because discussion and truth are better than silence and hiding things.

  • Fei, Wei

    I am not commenting the problems of the students from mainland China mentioned in the post. I just want to say, there are lots of persons who lack the ability and willingness to try to understand the differences between peoples, the reasons of the differences. I am not saying such lack is a fault, but if I see some different people, I would like to show a little interest to find why there are such differences before I make comment according to my own standards.

  • “The cheating is not a recent phenomenon. I saw it over 20 years ago, from students who were bright enough not to have to do it. I really think they saw nothing wrong with it.”
    ‘Bright enough to not have to do it’….nice speculation.
    PS. Them not knowing or caring about honesty or integrity is kind of a negative. Not the best defense.

  • “My classmates were out taking pictures of their food, or hitting the clubs with a religious fervor. We Americans by and large chuckle and chalk it up to youthful exuberance and “feeling one’s way” that younger American students abroad just drink themselves silly, hook up and get little in the way of real (whatever that is) intercultural exchange and language learning done, but why not extend the same grace to Chinese here? ”
    I also studied at a university in China, and sentiments like this (i.e., having fun in China means you don’t learn anything) annoy me. I definitely drank, went to the clubs with my expat hommies etc., but I also went to class, hung out with locals of both sexes (surprise, surprise: whilst clubbing and having fun) and also learned the language – having fun and learning aren’t mutually exclusive. Students needn’t dress themselves in sack-cloth and ashes, dine only on bread and water etc. to learn Chinese, nor is there any reason to be quite so proud of being a buzz-kill.
    Plus – I really have to ask whether you read the post or not. Dan wasn’t talking about mere awkwardness or cliquishness. Dan was talking about behaviour which essentially becomes distruptive. Is does not matter whether or not you like students who simple listen to what you say (or pretend to do so), if students are expected to participate in class and don’t. It does not matter whether you feel universities are unfair towards Chinese students, if the ‘unfairness’ consists of punishing them for cheating. It does not really matter if foreign students studying Chinese don’t put in any effort (at least not to anyone but themselves), but it does matter a lot more if Chinese students turn up in the US, UK or elsewhere to study economics/law/engineering unable to speak English despite having submitted documents saying that they can.

  • Very good post, Dan. Great comments too. Clearly there is a real problem, and I wonder what the universities are doing to address it. Their admissions policies really have to be tighter, given the prevalence of cheating on the admissions tests etc. At the same time, they evidently need to be doing a lot more in orientation and integration of a very different educational culture. I wonder when the need for critical thinking and creativity will still to filter down the Chinese system. Going by the recent articles on the Xi Jinping’s call for more “thought control” on Chinese campuses, we’ll be waiting a long time.
    My own experience of the Chinese education system is limited to a year spent teaching oral English in a very minor university in Jiangsu. For the end-of-year assessment, I took great pleasure in completely changing the subject from what the students had obviously prepared to talk about. The similarity in all their prepared speeches was ridiculous.

  • Winston

    Right is right and wrong but in defense I could say this.
    I had been a teacher in China for the past 5 years and enjoying every moment of it. The cultures (Yes, we cannot speak about general Chinese culture as these differ vastly from province to province and region to region)
    First thing, In the good old west we are afraid of making an a$$ out of ourselves, in Chinese culture – this is moved about feet up, You will always try to avoid “loosing face” and that may explain the silences in class. People from HK and Taiwan had been playing the English game for much longer. And as for those funny sounding speech that thunders in our ears – The Chinese language has only 427 sound combinations in their language, couple with the 4 tones they use it is pushed up a little, but it does not get us close to the 158 000 sound combinations in the English language.

  • Interesting discussion. I have just one thing to add.
    I highly recommend this thoughtful, nuanced article by a Chinese student in America. How amazing would it be if every student could learn to write like her!?
    Curious to hear what you think 🙂

  • HI

    “PS. Them not knowing or caring about honesty or integrity is kind of a negative. Not the best defense.”
    That was not meant to be a defense. I wrote in response to some comments above that suggested that the problems are largely due to the recent increase in numbers. My point is that cheating goes on and went on at the top as well–20 years ago, with a lot fewer students from PRC, at one of the very best American universities.
    “Pick up a faculty directory for MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, etc., and read the professors’ names. Plenty of Chinese names in there. They didn’t get into those posts by cheating.”
    This exercise misses the distinction between students who went through the PRC system and American-born Chinese students or other non-PRC Chinese. Pick up a faculty directory with that distinction in mind and see what you find.

  • pug_ster

    Personally, I see the Americans’ complaints of Chinese Students of cheating as sour grapes. It is a fact that Americans are falling behind in Math and Science compared to other countries so by the time they go to College, they are competing against Chinese Students who are probably more prepared than their American counterparts. Also, there are complaints that Chinese students are taught to memorize things without being ‘analytical.’ What if they used this kind of technique in order to ace their tests which many Americans lack?

  • anon this time

    It’s the same here in Australia, only worse. We get a lot of the Chinese students who can’t get into the American Universities. Once in, the schools refuse to give them the grades they deserve because if they did, a huge percentage of them would flunk out and then the schools wouldn’t keep getting the tuition. So they have had to raise the grades for everyone and so that means that those of us who graduated before the students from China started coming in large numbers look worse by comparison. Also, they are having to dumb down many of the classes and take away discussions and presentations. It is bad for everybody and the driver is nothing but money, on all sides.
    As for relations between the students from China and the students from Australia (including the Chinese who lived here before attending university), they are every bit as bad as your student friends describe it, if not worse.

  • Jo

    I’m currently living in Beijing and sometimes, I help proofread Chinese students’ admission essays. I can say for certain that a lot of what is written in the essays is fake or pure rubbish. To a certain degree, many of us exaggerate our C.Vs a little, but the gist of it is true. But with the Chinese students, a lot of what written in their essays/recommendation letters are based on well-spun lies. It really angers me seeing that.
    On to the TOEFL tests, apparently most Chinese students get their practice questions from this well-known Chinese teacher who “predicts” the actual questions. Let’s take a guess to what “predicts” mean. In turn, what these students do, is they write out a complete answer, memorize it and then recite it. For them, the learning part of it doesn’t matter. It is all about the grades, getting into a good school and then getting a good job. Who cares about the actual learning process.

  • C.

    Isn’t the bigger issue the fact that U.S. colleges and universities simply cannot get their financial houses in order? According to the Chronicle, many schools have been doing questionable things for a while now because of this (e.g., increasing out-of-state resident admissions, patenting their professors’ research, increasing the number of substandard students admitted from within city limits in exchange for property tax breaks, etc.). As I understand it, the U.S. higher education system is like health care — it’s a bizarro Wonderland-esque sector where microeconomic theories get pushed to their limit, if not entirely disproven.
    I think another issue to consider is how this affects STEM departments. A lot of female U.S. students will choose a department based on the percentage of women in it. However, when all of them turn out to be very cliquish Chinese students who won’t talk to them, you have yet another woman who switches to the humanities. I’ve been hearing anecdotally that this is becoming more and more common. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the humanities — but it’s definitely not good for U.S. competitiveness in science and tech industries.

  • Dan King

    The vast majority of Chinese students are very, very narrow in their approach to education. In addition, as they really did not commit to learning English in China, upon arrival in America, they are intimidated because they lack the ability to understand popular English.
    From Day One, the American universities they attend, encourage and support this, rather than trying to reverse the narrowness. 1st, the American schools have foreign students come to get new foreign student acquainted days to meet other foreign students, (not to intermix with local US students). The Chinese students quickly tie together & bond with other Chinese students and never learn to intermix with Americans or participate in, or even just experience American activities. Universities should insist that one month after starting school, they must come to a function with one American friend, and not with a cluster of other Chinese. They should insist they attend at least one American football game (or similar activity) with an American.
    At my MBA school, the Chinese students clustered together and never even attended MBA social events, because “we have to study”. The next evening, they would get together ot cook Chinese meals. They showed they had zero interest in amalgamating with the other students.
    My background: I lectured PhD students for several years at the Chinese Academy of Science. Also, I lectured, taught and spoken at numerous schools and universities in China rom Urumqi to Dalian and from Kunming to Xiamen. In addition, I have trained employees at numerous multinational firms in China. In America, I continue to sit in at classes at American universities.

  • Dan King

    pug_ster’s comment is silly. He/she should acquaint himself with the comments of Yau Shingtung, the only Chinese-born mathematician who has won the Fields Medal, the Nobel Prize of math, in its 70-year history.

  • Charles Liu

    How about we turn this generalization around on our universities? They are all underfunded and they are all making up the shortfall by purposefully admitting large # of unqualified Chinese student thru laxed, dishonest, bad faith admission, which naturally lead to only the worst-of-breed sort coming to taint an already compromised higher education system?
    This is the tone I’m hearing and attempt to reflect.
    Even if all the gross generalization is true, we have no one to blame but ourselves. So instead of taking it out on the Chinese students who are subsidizing our children’s education, however grotesque they all appear to be, why not go after our own homeboy admission committee, deans, regents, presidents?
    BTW, to me the “them [people]” comments pretty much says it all.

  • Visitor

    I am a Chinese student studying in the U.S. Frankly, this article is so irritated to Chinese students. Although I have to admit that some of the arguments are true based on what I heard and saw in the past, I deeply doubt the overall reliability of your sources and the proportion of the Americans in your reference to the total numbers of people who might be willing to comment. Bad students are everywhere, not just Chinese, your quotation has no statistic evidence to show that Chinese students are worse than other students from other countries and Americans.
    Yes, we hold the majority seats of international students here, but that is what the American economy needs. It is our money flowing into the U.S. every year to better the financial situation up. If you criticize why we are here to wast of our money, please ask your universities and your government about how many international students they need to balance deficits out to accommodate more American. The true is most of the Chinese students studying here have definite learning purposes, I am not saying all of us but a substantial numbers of Chinese students do.
    Not everyone is cheating on the exam. Don’t try to generalize just based on a minority of people’s unfaithful behaviors. Some comments above are neutral on this, cheating has nothing to do with their nationalities and it is purely a personal ethical problem.
    We have totally different education systems and cultures. You can’t deny that it is never an easy thing trying to merge two cultures together. It takes days, months and years for us to be familiarized with the American way. That explains why American bored Chinese, people from Hongkong and Taiwan can socialize better because you open the door to them earlier than China and they already took the time to finish the transition.Can I ask how many Americans staying in China can mingle perfectly with the local culture not trying to keep their own American ways? Now what you see is just a disproportional incidents on the disproportional basis of population which is unfair to us.
    I agreed on the point of school’s accountability. Personally, I really enjoyed my graduate education with my university. The conflict between schools’ interests in involving more Chinese students and American’s point of view from those negative observation is varied individually. Generally speaking, I would like to see some changes of policies to ensure the equal standard on candidates’ selection.

  • Student FROM China

    Most of the things listed above are common seen problems WE have. However, I do not agree with those comments on forbiding students from China to join U.S universities. We came here because we understand that college education in United States is better than ours, but we hope Americans can be a little more friendly on this matter. Put yourselves in our shoes, you probably will have the same problems, but are these problems so bad that you even want to keep us out of the door? The better thing to do, I think, is to find a solution to solve problems rather than coming here arguing about this. I am not saying that, we, students from China, do not have any of these problems you said we have, I am saying, as a native with hospitality, will you help us rather than standing there marking and blaming?
    Most of us who are not willing to actively interact with locals did have tried once; however, due to cultural differences and different kinds of difficulties one may face, we found it hard to truly blend into American groups. On the other hand, how many, or what percentage of American students have actively made friends with, or even possess the motivation of being friends with students from China? You cannot clap with only one hand; you blame us for not willing to make friends, why can’t you see the other side? You blame us for ruining the class discussion, why can’t you see sometimes we don’t get the chance of speaking just because you assume us to be weak in English and unable to communicate?
    I admire the courage of this post, but I doubt the motivation. It is a good thing you bring the problems on the table, but I am afraid your post is probably going to make the problems worse rather than solving them.

  • pug_ster

    @Dan King,
    Sorry, what you said is basically a paradox. Foreigners coming to China are not forced to understand and talk ‘popular’ Chinese, so I fail to see what is the big deal for Chinese Students in the US doing to same. Also, many Foreign expats don’t co-mingle with the Chinese brethren, so I don’t see that is a big deal with Chinese Students not hanging out with other students either.
    As for the ‘Nobel’ prize winners, I don’t think the problem is due to their ethnicity, rather the amount of money the government pump in for research and developing the state of the art universities: thus the reason why you see so many Chinese Students coming into the US. China should do the same and attract the best and brightest to study in China instead. Even if they do that, it takes a long time before any breakthrough research comes to fruition.

  • Charles Liu

    Dan, I think this “fissure” isn’t so much on the Chinese students, rather reflection of ourselves. I hope you will follow up with the Chinese students being demonized here and publish their side of the story. I am in Seattle, and am at your disposal for help in introduction, facilitation, translation, whatnot.
    I for one find these stereotype similar to what African-American students experience in colleges:
    “They are killing class discussion. They never contribute.”
    “they never interact with anyone who is not…”
    – Wait, I thought communication is a two-way street? Has our enlightened, superior 1st world mentality and congenial campus environment conducive to learning led to inclusion, participation? Or like the black students in the past, these newcomers too, felt ignored, slighted, left with the core of their social life being their own group?
    “They don’t come here to learn. They just come here for the grades.”
    – I for one have always thought grades earned is a reasonable affirmation of learning, at least in our superior education system that’s to be emulated. Even at face value isn’t it an individual choice why one attend college, may it be getting good grades or hiding out from bad job market?
    “they are here only because they pay the foreign tuition rate”
    – This is just rich with envy. Again these subhumans are subsidizing our education system that benefits all student body. Blame the policy makers that passed up high SAT, near-perfect GPA, and apparently an infallible ability to learn and not get good grades.
    “most of them cheated to get in”
    – I hope none of us here will ever be indicted and convicted with so little.
    Alas, this single issue IMHO is a good reflection of the greater China-US relations. They ain’t the ones accusing us of currency manipulation when we implement QE1/QE2, they ain’t the ones spending millions on dissidents to destabilize our government and functioning society, they ain’t the ones with thousands of nuclear war heads pointed at us.
    They ain’t the ones with the need to constantly manufacturing enemies.

  • MHB

    I want to share this, because I learnt something today.
    Peter Trifonas in ‘Barthes and the Empire of Signs’ (Empire of Signs was Roland Barthes’ fictional recounting of Japan) writes:
    “No representation – either in visual images or in words – can retrieve the essence of a culture and the meaning of its history, because the loss of meaning is always already there at the origin of the experience. Empire of Signs can be nothing but a product of Barthes’ imagination dealing with the excesses of meaning produced by the trauma of cultural dislocation and estrangement.”
    Many people are writing about this blog. What are we talking about? We don’t know. Many things, each of us. Do we know how to read the behaviour Dan describes? Can we interpret it without being coloured by our own, diverse, experiences? Are any of the words here accurate representations of Chinese students?

  • Ed

    In response to the concerns about cheating amongst Chinese students, or really any international student, i would like to direct people to the following

  • Thank you for a very interesting post, Dan!
    I think a lot of Chinese students didn’t have a clue about what they were getting into when they applied, and many applied for the wrong reasons. Instead of looking for a program/ school that really suits their need and interests, they were 1. desperate to avoid “gao kao”, 2. under the impression that (almost any) American diploma would gild their resume, and thus applied to schools mainly according to a probably meaningless University Ranking. — How could this not go wrong?
    I feel language is the biggest barrier that has kept many of my Chinese friends from involving in class discussion or school/social activities. As much as their classmates complain about their lack of involvement in and out of class, the Chinese students themselves are the real victims of their (parents) ill judgment. Therefore, I really hope the schools and other students would be more sympathetic to their predicament. Some schools have additional language course for newly matriculated students, or peer language tutoring, etc. I heard that has been pretty helpful.

  • TA

    It is posts like this that keep me addicted to CLB. I don’t know how you do it but you seem to be the sole blogger who is completely wired to the zietgiest and with the guts to actually write about it. For the umpteenth time, you have done a post on the very subject of which my friends and I have been talking. I swear to you that just yesterday a bunch of us agreed that there would soon be blowback from the bubbling hatred that is arising between students from China and students not from China here on America’s campuses. Screw those who say we should not be talking about this. If we don’t talk about it, it is going to blow and when I say blow I mean rioting type blow. There is not a state university on either coast that is not struggling with the issues you are raising and as they do so and as they continue just piling it on with the Chinese students it just keeps getting worse and worse. At some schools there is no longer even any pretense about why so many Chinese students are there: they need the money plain and simple.
    Who to blame? Not the Chinese students, who are just pawns of their parents and the schools. Not the American students who are just “calling it as they see it,” which is exactly how it is. Maybe not even the Universities which think they have no choice but to continue shoveling in more foreign students, damn the qualifications and the interview and the cheating and the lack of any personality. It is the fault of all of us Americans who refuse to fund our higher education and until we start doing that, we are going to get the education we are refusing to pay for. It is bad out there. Really bad. I know that because I just graduated last year from a top state university and I am now a TA in economics there and nothing you have said above isn’t 100% true here as well.

  • Allison Fuller

    I don’t like this article one bit, but I am glad you wrote it and I congratulate you on your courage in doing so.

  • GordonGekko

    I am a Chinese student, yes, a Chinese Chinese student who was born and raised in China then sent to boarding school here in the US then later college.
    I observed much of the same scences on campus around the US and I don’t think the author has seen the depth of the problem, if we can call it a problem.
    The haters have two main things to complain: 1. Chinese students get in because they pay higher tuition; 2. Chinese students don’t participate in campus life.
    Well, you are born here and you have the right to say get the hell out of our country, but just because you cannot get into the schools Chinese kids get into, that’s just pure jealousy. Many schools have programs to encourage foreign students or first generation students (that is, students who are the first ones in their families to go to college) to apply and provide them with a few advantages in terms of the admission. DEAL WITH IT. There is never a clear line of how high your GPA or SAT are to get into certain schools, and you are not the one to judge who should get in.
    The second problem is way too complicated. Someone here mentioned the Chinese way of teaching and learning, someone commented on the English ability, these are solid points. Here are some things I have witnessed and heard from CHINESE STUDENTS:
    They are very purpose driven because they are not here to party and get hammered on beer pong Wenesdays. Their parents paid lots of money and they want to have a better grade to get into grad schools or find a job. Please, don’t give them shit about how to enjoy a college life here in the US because things are completely different. Of course, those extremely wealthy Chinese kids are not included in this comment;
    Seoncondly, their English is not good. OK, settle down. You might wonder if their English is not that good, why would they want to study in the US or why the schools would even want to admit them, well, this is a real problem. They want to do it because there is this trend in China to send kids abroad, schools here in the US want them because they pay higher tuition. I do think something has to be done here to determine the English ability of applicants except for just TOELF and SATs, so far, we don’t have any solutions.
    I see African Americans hangout together, Koreans hangout together, American born Chinese hangout together, Hispanic students hangout together every single day and nobody picks them out and say, HEY, you should get invovled more!
    Just because the political tensions between US and China and bunch of kids learned from the presidential campain that US is losing jobs and owing money to China (read more kids, or take some higher level Econ and Politics class, you guys got a sweet deal in treasury bonds, and now the government is pushing Yuan to appreciate to pay less when the debt matures, stop complaining) does not justify the heated focus on Chinese groups.
    I admit there are, actually lots of Chinese students who only want to hangout with Chinese students. It is 100% true. They don’t make effort to fit in the American society and most of them, are by your standards, losers.
    Think about it, how many of you actually want to invovle a Chinese guy in your group, don’t give me bullshit about you would love to havev a Chinese kid to be your friends or even best friend, you don’t even want an Asian to be in your circles. They do something don’t fit the American way of thinking, you call them weird, dirty, freaky.. Until you are ready to fully embrace the culture and be friends with them (lots of Americans are), don’t judge.
    I work in Finance and here are some insights for being a Chinese students:
    We need higher GPAs to land an interview, not a job, an interview because we don’t have a green card or passport;
    We don’t have daddies and mommies to build connections for us, that been said, we need to suck up some American asses. Doesn’t mean American students don’t need to, we need to try harder.
    Companies don’t recruit you because you are foreign. Period.
    So if you are Chinese, and you don’t have a pretty transcript, you are f***ed.
    Many of you might ask, why do you want to stay here then? Why don’t you go back to China? Believe or not, I got lots of them.
    Well, that question is as irresponsible as some of the comments above.
    America advertises itself as a free country which embraces every culture. The founding fathers and later many great minds came from across the world to establish some mindblowing establishments. I understand a Chinese guy needs to work hard, but mos of them don’t deserve these comments.
    Just because you have all the previliages you don’t realize yet, keep the words to yourself.

  • This isn’t just an issue of a different language, culture or education system. If it were, the backlash would be against all foreign students — since someone from Brazil, or India, or Japan would have the same disadvantages and struggles. But it’s not. On multicultural campuses, the ire seems to be focused mostly on Chinese students, particularly the new wave of “princelings” (or “princesses”).
    As someone said before, this didn’t really exist a generation ago, when a small elite group of true Chinese academics went overseas to top schools. It cropped up with the appearance of large numbers of nouveau riche kids who might not actually be qualified to be at these schools, and whose attitude seems to be that an overseas degree is like an educational Louis Vuitton bag — they just want the name. They don’t care about actually being part of the larger educational experience, to the detriment of other students.
    It certainly is not an issue of race. Here in Hong Kong, I’ve heard similar complaints about mainland Chinese exchange students — and we are certainly the same race, and the language barriers are not very great.
    @ “Visitor”. Sorry, but if you’re from China, you know full well how much cheating there is. There’s a whole booming industry built on “helping” students write essays that they didn’t write themselves. The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other reputable sources have all quoted numbers as high as 90% — in terms of faked university applications from China.
    From The NYT:
    “The company concluded that 90 percent of Chinese applicants submit false recommendations, 70 percent have other people write their personal essays, 50 percent have forged high-school transcripts, and 10 percent list academic awards and other achievements they did not receive. ”
    The complaint is not just that Chinese students are cliquish — though snobbish or exclusive behavior does not exactly help them. It’s that there is an inherent unfairness.
    @ Visitor. I think your response is typically Chinese — defensive and focused just on money. It’s the same argument we hear all the time — “don’t criticize us because we have cash to spend on you now.” It totally misses the point of this post.

  • And my caveat, of course.
    We are all speaking in generalities. There are obviously very good Chinese students who are honest, studious, and who are genuinely interested in interacting with a foreign culture. I’m not playing down the difficulties of foreign students, or dismissing the achievements of students who excel in a second-language. (It’s not easy. I’ll admit that I couldn’t finish a degree if I had to do all my writing in Chinese).
    The criticism is not so much on individual students — don’t forget that undergrads are still basically teenagers. The criticism is on two flawed systems.
    The Chinese system discourages speaking out and original thought, and encourages cheating. So, when these kids hit foreign shores, they are in for a double cultural shock. (I’ve worked with new Chinese grads who plagarize articles and don’t even realize it.)
    Also, the new crop of Chinese students tend to be very sheltered. I was speaking to an intelligent Chinese student studying in HK. Out of the blue, she spewed racist talk about how she wanted to “stay away from poor blacks in America, because they will rob you” — and in a very friendly tone. I don’t think she had any idea that this would be offensive if she were overseas.
    On the other hand, the American (and British, and Australia, and Canadian…) systems may be blind to the problems of the Chinese students. The money that pours in probably helps them to be blind.
    They have to make more of an effort. In-person and Skype interviews would solve many problems. In a few minutes, you can figure out if someone has conversational English — more accurately than a written test.
    @ Student from China. Nobody is “forbidding” Chinese students. I think everyone is just looking for a better way forward. In the big picture, the more exchanges there are between young people of this world, the better off we will all be.

  • YAC

    I’m yet another (rather old) Chinese student in Europe. What I see here generally coincides well with this post. I could easily tell from that unmistakable insolence which of these comments are made by genuine Chinese from China…

  • Chris

    Great Post, and probably the most important problem facing the world as China “goes out”. Mainland students are among the first to “go out:” with money, after being fed 20 years of uber Chinese nationalism. They are told over and over in China that Chinese culture is superior to all else and have to be on the look out of westerners trying to change them.
    And lest all face it, their value system is completely different from western nations. Their system is singularly based on the relationships you create and the benefits you can give or take from that relationship structure. Western values system is based on a meritocracy. While cheating happens in all cultures, as explained in several posts above, there is simply no ethical or moral difficultly for a Chinese to cheat. As stated above, “its ok to cheat others, as long as its not your family”.
    Think about it, China sure mass and weight is going to influence world culture and values going like it has not done in over 200 years or more. As the world becomes even smaller and more globalized with China closer to the core, China’s value system is going to come more and more in clash with the worlds value system.
    Look at where it already does. The Olympics, students abroad, human trafficking, Intellectual property, Nobel Prizes, UN Climate Change meetings, UN Security Council, Africa, etc, etc, etc.
    Anywhere you find mainland Chinese outside of China, you find a direct clash of value systems. This is very very worrying for the rest of the world and most likely will lead to conflict between China and everyone else.

  • I would like to second the comments about how the Chinese education system simply does not prepare students for university life. When my students start, they can write a perfectly fine essay of the highly emotional, superficial, cliched kind required by the Gao Kao (speaking of cliches… when I find who’s been spreading the pernicious rumour that English cliches are equivalent to Chinese chengyu and therefore good writing, there’s going to be trouble), but simply have no understanding of how to go about writing the kind of rational, evidence-based essay needed for academic success. Those who pay attention do learn how to write academic essays, but it’s a long process of teaching them to write again from scratch.
    The comments putting the responsibility back on the institutions recruiting Chinese students are interesting, especially those regarding institutions that are a lot fussier about the applicants they accept. We can’t (and shouldn’t try to) change the Chinese education system, but we can change how we respond to it. My job – teaching English for Academic Purposes, particularly academic writing, before they go overseas – is one example of what needs to be done. One can’t expect Chinese students to suddenly start acting like ‘Western’ students when nobody’s bothered to tell them how ‘Western’ education systems and educational cultures work and therefore what they’ll need to do. They also need to learn about their host societies and cultures and they need support through the darker stages of culture shock, so institutions recruiting foreign students need to make sure that adequate pastoral care systems are in place and that the students know how to and feel safe using them.
    And institutions recruiting Chinese students need to understand modern Chinese culture and society. One of the more frustrating aspects of my job is the sheer number of students who have no interest in their major. Far too many students tell me, “I want to study x, but Daddy made me come here and study IT so that I can get a good job.” I also have a large number of students who after graduation go on to do masters degrees in things they are actually interested in. Institutions recruiting Chinese students need to understand the huge familial involvement in choosing a student’s major and need to put in place systems that can help students move into areas they are more interested in and motivated to study, or, if they can’t change their major due to parental pressure, develop their interests in other ways.
    Another common problem I see is that although nearly all of my students come from affluent or fabulously wealthy backgrounds, precious few of them have travelled abroad. Although some come from areas of great ethnic and cultural diversity, most come from areas very much dominated by Han and some Hui. For the overwhelming majority, ethnic and cultural differences are an abstract concept. I keep telling my students that the Australian institution they are enrolled in has no understanding of or interest in their view of higher education and expects them to follow the Australian model of university education, and they know this in theory, but for the overwhelming majority that theoretical knowledge does not take concrete form unless and until they go to Australia to complete their degrees (and the Australian university in question is located in a fairly small, remote town, so there’s no hiding in Chinatown for those students who take that option). Institutions recruiting Chinese students (and, I imagine, students from other countries/territories with little in the way of ethnic and cultural diversity) need to find ways to prepare the students for the reality of life in a very different culture either before they leave or before they begin their formal studies.
    Yes, there are things the Chinese could do themselves to improve the situation, but as has been pointed out, there’s no shortage of Westerners in China whose behaviour is very well described by all these complaints about Chinese students. Just last year I was invited to take part in an event with the foreign students of my university because although they could easily find plenty of Africans and Asians with good Chinese, none of their many European or North American students was up to scratch. There’s not much point demanding the Chinese respect our cultures when so many of us so such little respect to them. It’s that old Law of Reciprocity thing.
    What disturbs me is that I see so many institutions treating China as some kind of magical, cash-spewing ATM and so few adapting their approach to China to suit the local system, culture and society.

  • preston 阿雷

    These comments are all spot on, not prejudice or made in haste. In regards to foreigners at Chinese universities the comments are also very accurate that most foreigners stick to the foreign dorm and never attempt to integrate into the community.
    That being said, I am also studying here at Nanjing University, not in the foreign language dept. All my classmates are Chinese, save for another foreigner who is Thai. I try to get in with them but for the most part they are unreceptive, mostly because they just want to study and sleep (both at the library). I even had one classmate ask me why I wanted to talk with chinese and told me I should stick with the foreign students. It wasn’t said in anger but rather in calm confusion.
    The chinese students there aren’t looking for an education, they just want to go home with a degree from a foreign university so that other people think that they are smart. Sadly they are right, most judgements on people here are paper thin. You are your resume and your bank account. period

  • anon this time

    Equating the behavior of Americans in China (student or otherwise) with those of Chinese students in the U.S. is a false analogy. The U.S. is a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society (as are some other Western countries) and China is not. Whine all you want about it, but most foreigners (again, students and otherwise) have difficulty living/working/studying in China because the country is fundamentally not “designed” for foreigners to integrate/assimilate easily, if at all. There is zero expectation that foreigners integrate/assimilate in China because foreigners are always considered foreign, regardless of language fluency, cultural understanding, time spent in-country, or even political sympathies.
    On the other hand, the essential openness of American society, rooted in a history of immigration and a civil (and non-ethnic/non-religious) basis for citizenship, allows for people of different ethnicities and nationalities to comfortably integrate into American society. It’s the basis of the American polity.
    America’s best university campuses reflect America’s openness and one can find students of many nationalities and colors living and learning together in a reasonably comfortable manner. Going back to my school days at a mid-tier private university in the western U.S., I recall friends from the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia (ex-China). My social fraternity even had non-U.S. members pledge. In my experience at a Chinese university, that was certainly not the case, as foreign students had their own classes, dorms, and activities. Basically, the program was designed to keep us as “foreign” as possible. Establishing special, Chinese-only programs at American universities, as some have suggested, would be a recipe for the same sort of segregation. U.S. universities best serve students by upholding core American values: equality and self-reliance. Foreign students are able to participate fully in all university programs and classes, but it’s up to them to be able to handle themselves.
    It’s pointless comparing the activity or behavior of American (or other foreign) students in China with Chinese in the U.S. given that American students (and foreigners in general) pretty much have no possibility of integrating into Chinese society. It would be much better to ask why so many non-U.S. students get along just fine in U.S. universities but many Chinese students don’t seem to. Obviously, quite a bit of the blame lies with the universities, yet a only a few years ago, American schools were admitting wealthy kids from the Middle East in record numbers yet there were not similar complaints about rampant cheating and failure to integrate (same for students from the former Soviet Union).
    What this all boils down to is what no one wants to say out loud (just like they wouldn’t say it when Chinese farmers were adding melamine to milk): modern China has produced a culture of insularity, immorality, corruption, and general disdain for anything/anyone that cannot help individuals enrich themselves or their immediate family/friends. Yes, there are many individual Chinese people that buck these trends, but that’s the overarching reality in 21st century China, and that’s why Chinese kids don’t do well in Western schools.

  • Cythia

    Sometimes, even class participating rate is related to their grades, Chinese students will not answer questions, in fact, not because they don’t want to answer, just they are afraid not be understood to disturb the classes process! It is a culture in China, teachers are just like parents, students must respect them and comply to them!
    Chinese students want to make American friends! They do and pretty want to have some American friends, just the cultures are so difficult! Most Chinese students found that their minds are close to the minds of people born 50 years ago! So it is so easy for Chinese students to make friends with old people in USA, but difficult to involve in the new generations! Whats more, most Chinese students are very shy, they don’t know how to be active, if you give a smile to a Chinese student, believe me, she or he will be very happy to be friends with you!
    We need an open heart to receive the different culture different people in the world! When people open your hearts to others, no matter where others come from! It will be so easy to communicate and be friends! What we need is just be nice and understanding!

  • LOLZ

    I agree with a lot of the things said here about the mainland Chinese students but am in strong disagreement that these issues apply only to mainland Chinese groups and not others. After going to school in Boston for 6 years (ungrad then graduate) I would say that students from mainland China are not all that much more anti-social than other non-English speaking international groups. For example, International Koreans barely hang out with American Koreans, let alone people of other races. Hong Kong clubs and Taiwan clubs typically do not socialize with each other, although both groups have a few non-Asians mixed in. The ASEAN groups can mix a bit, but the Indian groups are pretty exclusive as well in terms of who they socialize with.
    As someone originally from mainland China, it is frustrating to see that Mainland Chinese students are getting singled out as anti-social cheaters in articles from NYT to MSN to this one. On issues like cheating, before blasting a particular group of people as being cheaters, someone ought to research the occurrence of cheating grouped by races/ethnicities in US schools. Of course this is unlikely to happen because the result of such a study will just been as race baiting. Clearly this concept doesn’t apply to Chinese students. Yes there are many cheaters in China, but 80% of the Atlanta schools were affected by a massive cheating scandal t recently, so why don’t I hear people arguing that Atlanta students are all undeserving cheaters as they do against the Chinese? While the criticisms against the Chinese themselves can be accurate, the tone of the criticisms toward the mainland Chinese students reeks of prejudice.
    On how can we all make this situation better, I think everyone here agrees that universities need to have a better screening process. If people are concerned with cheating it’s also important for universities to dish out harsh punishments towards cheaters. I say expel the students and send them back to China if any of them are caught cheating repeatedly. In addition I think it may be beneficial if not mandatory for Chinese (and other international students lacking English oral skills) to spend a half year in English immersion programs before attending classes. I know some people who spend 3+ months in ESL programs before attending their degree programs. Often their written English was excellent, but their speaking English was difficult to understand so they lack the confidence to speak up even when they want to participate in discussions.
    Finally on the social factor, sometimes people simply don’t want to socialize with groups they are uncomfortable with. I socialized with almost all Asian groups when I was in college but avoided the frat scene in general. The fact that some people are more anti-social than you should not ruin your own experience. Afterall, in most schools there is no way you are going to socialize with one tenth of the student population, let alone everyone. Conflicts arise from group projects are harder to deal. I guess this is something which the prof/TA must get a better control of when they assign the groups.

  • Franky Z.

    Great post and great comments. I just read them all from beginning to end and I have to say I learned a lot and was impressed with the overall civility and scholarship.

  • Chris

    @Anon this time – Rock and Roll buddy!!! In one sentence you have boiled down the single issue that will most effect the entire world in the 21st century. This issue will effect each and everyone of us around the world in profound ways that we don’t even know yet (and none of it will be good). The world needs to wake up to the problems being created in China. The western worlds “political correctness” and the trendy belief that all value systems are equal has let our guard down.
    “Modern China has produced a culture of insularity, immorality, corruption, and general disdain for anything/anyone that cannot help individuals enrich themselves or their immediate family/friends.”

  • Lei Gong

    All I’m going to say is before we start pointing fingers, let’s consider the possibility that everything quoted in there can have “mainland/chinese students” be replaced with “x (some other group) students”. If this is a real trend rather than just personal prejudices masquerading as a story it might behoove people to actually pull up some numbers/rates of incidences.

  • Lei Gong

    I would also like to add that, even if this were a real problem, it’s somewhat discouraging that the collective response is to chide rather than change. All chiding ever does is make it about ego and putting oneself above others. So long as the reaction revolves around the negativity I can’t help but feel like this is really about ostracizing the other and feeding into a perception of superiority rather than really focusing on a problem and trying to address it.

  • Cooter

    Anon wrote: “What this all boils down to is what no one wants to say out loud (just like they wouldn’t say it when Chinese farmers were adding melamine to milk): modern China has produced a culture of insularity, immorality, corruption, and general disdain for anything/anyone that cannot help individuals enrich themselves or their immediate family/friends.”
    [Cut to 1960s rock band “Jefferson Airplane”]
    “When the Truth is found…to be LIES…and all the joy…within you dies….]

  • Skeeter

    Thank God that we’ve got so many kids of China’s ruling class in the U.S.!
    So when the U.S. eventually bombs-the-crap out of Iran sometime later this year and blows-the-shit out of all the Chinese workers working on Chinese projects in Iran, at least the Chinese will think twice about taking Americans in China hostage. Whew Doggy!!!!

  • Jughead

    Thanks for simply, unemotionally, and honestly pointing out the way American students feel about students from China who come here. It isn’t pretty, but it is good to get it out so we all can start dealing with it.


    I’ m a Chinese guy, to be exact, from mainland china. I have to admit that we chinese student seldom discuss while attending class. The reason is, actually, there is no such a thing in our own education system before.
    I know, it’ really pathetic that we put too much emphasis on our grades. In mainland china, actually, a higher grade means a better future. Such a belief has stick in our mind for a very long time. I could even say it has been a part of our tradition and custom. Only if you gain a higher grade can you access to a higher education. Regardless of what happens, having a higher education is still really important, if you ever want a better salary in the future. And i have to mention that, if you want to be more exclusive in china’s job market, go and bring a foreign education certificate back. Presenting a foreign education certificate could be very pratical in a job interview.
    Somebody also mentioned that chinese students rarely communicate with other people… Actually I don’t know this case before I read this page, cause i never been abroad. But I guess, probably…the language problem?
    P.S.: In mainland China, it’s impossible and unwise for us to cheat in a provincial or national exam. Trust me, you could cheat in a daily test in class, but there’s no such a chance for you to cheat in those regular exam, under the monitor of two CCTV and two teachers in the examination room(my own experience in our national university entrance examination). If you get caught, you will be severely punished(then your future is screwed). In the end, the only thing you can rely on is your own knowledge.

  • I haven’t had the time yet to read through all of the comments above, but I’d like to add my small contribution to this subject. I’m French and studied in a French “Ecole d’Ingénieur” which produces top management engineers. We had a population of roughly 20% foreign students every year in our school, and most of the time it went really well, Chinese or non-Chinese.
    To get in such a school is very hard for French speakers (2 years prep school + very tough competition for entrance), and the only foreigners that could get in would have to show 2 years of excellent grades from some of the top ten universities in China (Tsinghua, Jiaotong etc). Some comments from above were very true, for Chinese people but also for Brasilians or other nationalities that represented a relevent number in the 40-50 foreigners we had every year. They were coming a month or two early to learn French – most of them only had only taken a few classes in the 1 or 2 years before arriving to France – so they knew each other much better than the other French, and of course were shy because they weren’t sure about their French. But most of them were really good, and made the best of their double experience from China and France.
    On top of that, I’d remember a comment from a Chinese lady friend from those years, who told me that Chinese and French universities would rather enrol Chinese girls than boys in foreign programs, because the girls adapted a lot better to a new environment. I found that rather funny ^^

  • This issue will fade soon. The purpose for universities is to make make money. I will say it again…to make money. I know.( I worked for academia over 20 years.) The real money comes from Alumni giving. Chinese students in America, like most foreign students, historically give little or no money to Alumni campaigns.
    The tuitition they pay is very limited to providing the university survive in perpetuity. It is the large Alumni donations that the university needs. WIth little coming from China and others, the quota will begin to roll back.

  • Another Dan

    I hate to just copy what so many others have said, but thank you for running this post. I am a student at a state university in the South (I don’t want to mention it because I saw how another blog seized on your article and attacked the University of Washington as though it is the only school where this is going on) and we feel the exact same way. I feel the exact same way and I wish I didn’t, but I can’t help it. I really wanted to welcome the Chinese students here and I tried to welcome them but they had no interest in me and then when I saw them cheat so much in tests (they sit together and copy straight off each other’s tests) I got angry too. At least your writing about this may embarrass the schools enough to lead to change. I sent your article to our admissions office and told them to read it, along with the comments. I also think the Chinese who come on here and say that this sort of thing should not even be discussed are just like the students who discuss nothing in class. I guess there is the view that if we don’t discuss it, it doesn’t exist. Maybe every freshman from China should be required to read John Locke.

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  • VivianChang

    I am Chinese and I am bothered too by those who seek to keep things quiet as if we do not talk about something it will not exist. I am sorry but that is how we are so often taught. Some say it is from the Cultural Revolution when silence was the best policy. I say we need to go beyond that.

  • Eric

    People raise many, many valid points. I agree that the issue is largely a result of having a large group of Chinese students at a school, and I’ve seen it happen to students from other counties as well. It happens to Americans studying in China, too.
    U.S. universities work hard to try to integrate their students abroad through home stays or rooming with local students, language-exchanges, cultural programs, etc. These are only partially successful.
    Also, U.S. students abroad go for cultural immersion (and to be of legal drinking age and to travel). Chinese students come for the academics.
    The incessant U.S. complaints about how everything is made in China, Chinese politics, Free Tibet stickers, and so on are going to cause people from a culture that focuses on harmony to clam up.
    In general, the Chinese graduate students I have met in the sciences were either in the lab or at home speaking Chinese, eating Chinese food, and hanging out with Chinese people. The much smaller group in the social sciences, humanities and to some extent business, spent a lot of time with U.S. students and learning the language and culture.

  • pug_ster
    According to this article, there was some kind of scientific study that 74% of high school students cheat at least once in the past year. This posting seems to be oblivious of this fact. Unless there’s some study that shows that Chinese students cheat more than American Students, what was said above is simply hearsay.

  • zhao zhao

    I’m a Chinese student studying at Qingdao University, and spent one semester at UMN as an exchange student.
    It’s true that some Chinese students in the states are not good enough and hire agency to “pack” them to US universities. Some of my parents’ friends think their children cannot enter good university in China through “Gaokao”, then spend much money to send them to other countries.
    For those students who receive negative comments, it reminds me of the following thought.
    First thing to think is where they are from and who they are. It influences their value and performance. Generally speaking, the students who study in the states are mostly come from two types of family conditions. One type is that from very rich families, whose parents are involving in business and “political benefit”. The others are like me, whose family are not rich but want to receive better education and change life. The first group is quite large. They have better substantial support from their parents. Some of them are really outstanding and received ethical value from their family, and they behave very well. While some are not, they just want to get the foreign diploma. They don’t enjoy the education, and just see it as a task assigning by their parents. I think the critics are mostly for this type of students.
    Secondly, I think education Chinese students received from childhood are quite different from American students. When I was in Minnesota, I lived with a host family which have a 7-year old little girl Lily. I went to her school and joined her class. They were studying Confucius and Chinese culture, and I gave them a short presentation. American students develop their broad knowledge and viewpoints from an early age. While I come back home, my little nephew lives in my home and he is also 7 yrs old. He just studied basic and fundamental courses such as Chinese, Math, English, PE, etc. His parents, try their best to “protect” him, they give the teachers much money and gifts in order to let the teachers to “take care” of him. He doesn’t like to speak in front of people that he’s not familiar with. While my host parents let Lily do things she likes, and learn from mistakes. The difference of early education make the students different. American students receive the education that make them more likely to express their own ideas, more independent than Chinese students.
    Thirdly, some Chinese students are discouraged by discrimination. One of my friends who’s studying in UMN said that some US citizens discriminate them and let her feel uncomfortable when socialize.
    Fourth, normal Chinese students need more opportunity to get abroad and see the world. I don’t agree with the comments that those totally hate Chinese students in the states and want to refuse all Chinese students. I admit that China’s education has many disadvantages, and it need actual improvement. In the exchange semester in UMN, I feel myself have been changed by the good education and get more mature by developing the cross-culture perspective. As you can feel from your own experience, there are an amount of talented and hard-working Chinese students. If more students have the opportunities, they will experience a great improvement.
    At last, I am confident of China’s education future. As more and more students are receiving better education and scientific values than their parents, the general behavior of Chinese students will get better.
    That’s I can think about right now.
    After I return from Minnesota, I feel there is much space for me to improve my expression skills. I realize that education is not only about obedience and “harmony” with teachers, but to take in different perspectives and present your own point of views are also very important. Maybe this is one of the reasons that why American education shows amazing progress, while China’s Education develops quite slowly.
    BTW. I just talked about this with my sister who’s studying at Zhongshan University. She asked one question and answered by herself:
    “When did you start to express your own opinion?”
    “We all have one same opinion all the time. That’s the right answers on every exam. Other opinions are all wrong according to our education.”
    So, how can we express our opinions quite well and be active as American students?

  • im a Chinese student studying at an American college.

    harsh generalization, altho true to a certain extent. there are rotten tomatoes in every basket, only ours come in great number since duh, #1 populated country. well, i blame the deeply flawed educational system back East. but i know there are more ppl out there from my own country that also despise those kinda behaviors as mentioned (like FR said, all that come from a more spoiled generation) and wanna change things. Also, let’s not 4get students cheat on tests, college admitting wealthier kids &etc hold true to all college students &colleges. The Chinese kids stand out, again, because we are minorities and come in great numbers, as well as, who’s not talking about China these days since it’s been labelled as the rising economic giant that threatens this superpower nation. Naturally, as minority students, kids from the same ethnicity backgrounds stay 2together in a totally alien environment, isay that’s smart. (but i admit some lack that initiative to explore what’s out there once they get comfortable within the ‘Chinese circle’) but, why don’t the openly expressive American students approach the Chinese kids and talk to them?? To put a pressing bitter summary targeting the Chinese students only raises animosity and prejudice towards the Chinese students, which ultimately drives native American students farther away from a culture they aren’t yet familiar with.

  • Charles Liu

    @zhao zhao, “I think the critics are mostly for this type of students”
    Well, one would think so, but the indictment is a broad stroke of stereotype on students from China. This just smack of racism. IMHO today’s racism isn’t the overt kind of racism in the past, but this seemingly harmless, rational, justifiable kind of racism.

    • Ann

      Totally agree with you! I think that this “discrimination” against the Chinese international students is partially because of the conflicts between the two political systems. Living with western media, people are kinda brainwashed that everything western is superior. They are privileged to judge negatively on other people. When people think of ‘Chinese’ ‘Communism’, they perceive it as bad without doing research or anything, because over the long period of time, public media in western countries only showcase Chinese image negatively.

  • James

    I taught writing at Nankai U. for several years.
    Most classes were surprised that they had to learn critical thinking to write convincingly. In a few weeks they were beginning to write more logical, convincing arguments, using their own brains to come up with their own opinions – but one of the classes was torture.
    It came down to one student. He was placed in English, because he hadn’t tested high enough to get another major, and he wasn’t interested in working hard enough to be allowed to have a second major.
    His future was fixed. He couldn’t be kicked out of school unless he did something really wrong, and he knew that once he graduated, he would be working for his father, in his father’s company. (That has to be crushing, to know that nothing you want matters, you will do what you are told. Don’t bother to think for yourself.)
    He had no need to achieve, no need to participate, and no interest in learning English or writing. And he was the class monitor.
    Because he wouldn’t discuss in class, nobody else in that class wanted to discuss opinions on any topic, no matter how non-political it was. Most of those students would discuss their ideas one-on-one, in my office hours, and I would give them feedback on how to write better, but that one student killed the class discussion – dead.
    I would not be surprised if those student groups in US universities also have such a student as part of them – somone whose future is fixed, and nothing they want matters – they were sent to get that diploma.

  • Wayne

    “They don’t come here to learn. They just come here for the grades.” I have heard this one at least a half dozen times.”
    This is ridiculous. They have to learn to get the good grades.
    If one gets good grades (without cheating of course), and has not learned anything, that is a fault of the assessment regime the institution uses. Not the student.
    “They come here to study, but since they never interact with anyone who is not from China, I don’t even see why they come.”
    In my experience, people who make these sorts of comments are themselves least likely to interact with different peoples.

  • nulle

    “I work in Finance and here are some insights for being a Chinese students:
    We need higher GPAs to land an interview, not a job, an interview because we don’t have a green card or passport;
    We don’t have daddies and mommies to build connections for us, that been said, we need to suck up some American asses. Doesn’t mean American students don’t need to, we need to try harder.
    Companies don’t recruit you because you are foreign. Period”
    I think you are jaded from your upbringing and probably discrimination from the French.
    Of course, you WILL need a higher GPA to land an interview…remember if the target company hires you, they WILL need to get you residency and that COSTs money to the company, usually 50-100% more than a local graduate. So they need assurances to hedge themselves (either in higher GPAs, locking you in employment period of years, more selective [graduate degrees])
    Your statement about connections are false…since you are in a university,especially at a graduate level you can get internships and visit/network during career fairs. Every Bachelor graduate don’t have connections and company don’t recuit you because whether you are foreign or local, they hire whether you are good or not (to do the job/task successfully and make them a lot of money [NET])
    what I see in general in undergrad is that each local and foreign ethnicity have their social circles and those of foreign ethnicity less likely to mingle with the locals. Students locally would mingle across race lines. In particular of mainland China (or any communist countries), they are taught to keep their mouth shut or risk consequences from (parents, teachers, employers, govt) from a young age. They are taught to keep their comments/opinions to themselves. Due to this, society in China concentrate on material gains to equal achievement. This manifests themselves to be economically strong and culturality varied.
    I see this every year in grad school where a bunch of mainland chinese took longer to adjust (up to 1 year longer) versus other grad students, especially for qualification exams and life in grad school. students from other asian countries (Korea, Japan, Thai) adjusted quickly (within a quarter) to life in grad school and mingled with rest of us while those from mainland china form their groups and makes it harder to mingle with them socially and academically (very applicable to research and necessary for success.)
    I have this mainland lady have a hard time adjusting to grad school and broke down wanting to head home after first semester and struggle for Ph.D qualification exam (written and presentation regarding research) and ended failing and struggled to finish her masters in time.

  • Jing

    There is a higher education bubble in the US caused by the injection of massive amounts of government money. This has raised costs for all parties involved and also led to schools competing with one another via wasteful spending to attract more students and gain more prestige. With the recent small scaleback in income by the schools (to be followed by an eventual massive pullback), they have sought to earn more money by attracting fully paying international students. Credentialism is rampant in China (and rising in the U.S.) and parents of great means and mediocre children use every tool at their disposal to secure the best future possible for their children. Better the cachet of an average Western university than attending an average Chinese one. Naturally the English proficiency of the great majority of these students are not up to par. Not a problem, according to companies who have moved themselves into the lucrative niche of “massaging” academic records of Chinese children applying to U.S. schools for undergraduate admissions. The schools benefit, the parents benefit, the middle-men benefit, and the only people who are unsatisfied are the students.
    Sounds about right to me.

  • John B

    Recently I have been helping a Chinese boy with his application to UW, so I read the original blog with great interest. I was taken aback, and intended a lengthy response but the number of insightful comments has saved me a lot of work.
    For the past three years, i have been heavily involved in helping Chinese youngsters go to school in the US. I have helped with high school and college applications, been guardian for several high school students[including my own stepdaughter] and advised many mainland and HK parents about US educations for their children. Also, in part because I have a Chinese wife I have many friends who came to the US for educations and stayed. Therefore I can say with some authority that the “problem” is with a minority of Chinese students in a small number of US colleges aggravated by a host of greedy agents in China.
    UW is a good example, as it does not require TOEFL or SAT’s for international students. So what is left for evaluation purposes-transcripts or GPA? Doesn’t UW know it only costs $1000 to the principal for a straight A average in some private schools in China? My first ward from China was expelled from two private schools in the US before I learned the transcripts were falsfied and the kid had been diagnosed as having mental problems. I’ve been more careful since and the results have been gratifying.
    Almost every Chinese youngster has problems in his or her first year of school in the US. My stepdaughter struggled for C’s and B’s in grade 10 ,has been an “A” student since and is going to the Pratt Institute next year with a significant scholarship . So what is the solution?
    For US colleges, there must be more care in the selection process. More importantly for Chinese students and parents, for whom I’m writing , a minimum of one year of US prep school or bettor still three years of US high school will prepare the kid for optimizing his or her college experience.
    A better education for Chinese students benefits all of us. Lets terminate inflammatory rhetoric and address real problems. And solve them!

  • LH

    (LH: “Pick up a faculty directory for MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, etc., and read the professors’ names. Plenty of Chinese names in there. They didn’t get into those posts by cheating.”)
    HI: This exercise misses the distinction between students who went through the PRC system and American-born Chinese students or other non-PRC Chinese. Pick up a faculty directory with that distinction in mind and see what you find.
    We are talking about students who went through the PRC system up to a certain point (undergraduate or graduate studies), then switched to the U.S. There are LOTS of such folks on the faculties of good American universities at this point. It’s putting your head in the sand to try to argue, as some are doing here, that all students who hail from China are cheaters, lack proper training and rigor, etc. I think it’s true that as a group they have a hard time expressing themselves in English! That’s to be expected. In technical fields this isn’t nearly so important as in humanities — it is important but so much technical vocabulary is universal, and also the “refinement” of communication is not nearly so important as getting the actual facts across. I.e., the bar is much lower.
    @pugster: “Also, there are complaints that Chinese students are taught to memorize things without being ‘analytical.’ What if they used this kind of technique in order to ace their tests which many Americans lack?”
    That’s exactly what they do, and the test is called the SAT (or GRE or whatever). The problem is that it is a TERRIBLE predictor of academic success. The only real predictor of academic success that has any reliability is prior academic success. I.e., someone who was competitive in undergrad studies is much more likely to be competitive as a grad student than someone who does well on the GRE but was not a competitive undergrad.
    The farther you go along in school, the less the memorization stuff helps. It is the cat’s meow in primary school, pretty good in secondary school, sometimes a passable substitute for real understanding at the undergraduate level (depending on how rigorous the program is), and all but useless at the graduate level. At some point, you have to be able to apply knowledge out of its original context, to be able to synthesize solutions to new problems, etc.
    Anyway, as I see it this is all a red herring. If a Chinese student wants to try to go through Harvard using rote memorization as his learning technique, let him do it. Nothing wrong. He’ll either succeed or fail. If he is up for a real challenge, he should try going through the Harvard school of architecture or graduate engineering at MIT using such an approach. Again, he’ll either succeed or fail. I’ve had plenty of Chinese grad and undergrad students, and the ones that succeed at a high level — every one of them — transcends this mechanical way of “learning” in favor of the real thing. And they succeed marvelously.

  • anon this time’s comment of January 12, 8:50pm is a superb example of one serious problem that impacts this issue.
    Demonising China while idolising America; playing up China’s problems while ignoring America’s problems. It’s very easy to criticise the Other while swanning around with your nose in the air pretending your perfect, isn’t it? Much harder to climb down off the pedestal you’ve made for yourself and actually try to understand the Other’s point of view. If all you’ve got to offer Chinese people coming to your country is ill-informed criticism and abuse delivered with that air of presumed superiority, how could you possibly expect them to open up and talk to you and play by your rules?

  • Chris

    @pug_ster (or is it wu mao?)
    Below is a link to Huffington post that quotes a NY Times article on a study that shows 90% of Chinese students cheat on their application. Again, congratulations to China for beating the US in another statistic (90% is more than 75%). You must be really proud of China! They beat the imperialist pigs again! Must be do to your different cultural make up.
    “Chinese students are coming to American colleges in record numbers. A recent New York Times analysis of this phenomenon makes it clear that nearly all of these students cheat to gain admission. As evidence, the Times quotes a report concluding that “90 percent of Chinese applicants submit false recommendations, 70 percent have other people write their personal essays, 50 percent have forged high school transcripts and 10 percent list academic awards and other achievements they did not receive.” The report predicts this will only get worse going forward. The Times calls this a “conundrum.”

  • Chris

    You blame Chinese students lack of ability to use critical thinking skills on the cultural revolution… is actually a tool used by the dictators in Beijing to subjugate the population of China. They tell you that questioning authority is not part of Chinese culture. The reason they want to continue to promote this out of date idea is that they don’t want you questioning their dictatorial ways and their abuse of individual citizens rights.
    Chinese culture is not monolithic and absolute. Although they would like you to believe, the Chinese government is the arbitrator of Chinese culture. Cultures change, grow, and adapt. They do away with old, outdated or simple wrong beliefs (One could say that slavery was part of American culture. It was not right and eventually it was rooted out of our culture).
    Mao was right, he understood that it was Chinese culture that is what ultimately holds China back. He understood that China could only create sustainable long term development if it did away with its old cultural ways. Unfortunately, even the power of Mao was not enough to crush it.
    And before you jump and say “look at the last 30 years since Mao died. China current trajectory is not sustainable, especially as “modern China of the last 30 years has produced a culture of insularity, immorality, corruption, and general disdain for anything/anyone that cannot help individuals enrich themselves or their immediate family/friends. Yes, there are many individual Chinese people that buck these trends, but that’s the overarching reality in 21st century China, and that’s why Chinese kids don’t do well in Western schools”. (and i will add, why China’s current trajectory is not sustainable)

  • shakti

    As someone who is neither American nor Chinese but who travels extensively in both countries, it looks like this : a group of folks (Chinese students and their families) are buying a service (education) from US providers (UW and others). Both sides seem to regard it as a reasonable exchange of fees for services. But a second group of customers (their local classmates) reckon their consumption of the same product is compromised by the presence of customers #1. Dan’s post asks ‘what needs to change ?’
    The answer seems straightforward. First, customers #2 can take their business elsewhere. College rankings in the US are more transparent and responsive to market pressures than most other places, and if antipathy to the failure of Chinese students to integrate is truly so strong that prospective students choose to vote with their feet and donors with their wallets, then it WILL BE self-correcting by the institutions themselves – either by restricting admission or by developing programs for integration and improved cultural exchange.
    Second, American voters have important decisions coming up in this generation about the shape of their government sector. Is the government responsible for a social safety net, pensions, healthcare and subsidised education, and are voters prepared to fund this with higher taxes, or not ? As long as the answer is ‘no’ on taxes and ‘no’ on other budget cuts, universities will continue to evolve into service-providers in a marketplace.
    It seems to me that the reaction by UW students and their families, and by many posters on this forum, is less about Chinese students than it is about Americans’ anxiety about their ability to control their destiny in an multi-polar world. It is ugly, but I suppose inevitable, that the anxiety is being worked out with such a big pinch of xenophobia.

  • Malcolm McLaren

    An ugly topic for sure.

  • HI

    “As someone who is neither American nor Chinese but who travels extensively in both countries, it looks like this : a group of folks (Chinese students and their families) are buying a service (education) from US providers (UW and others). Both sides seem to regard it as a reasonable exchange of fees for services. But a second group of customers (their local classmates) reckon their consumption of the same product is compromised by the presence of customers #1. Dan’s post asks ‘what needs to change ?'”
    This summary excises any hint of a moral component to the problem. Most Americans see a serious moral problem with cheating. The transactional way the issue is framed above is typical of the mindset that generates the problem to begin with.
    Yes, Americans’ anxiety in changing world may play a role. This may include anxiety that cheaters get ahead (in general, not just in college). Dismissing that as merely sour grapes and xenophobia imho displays a stunning lack of moral compass.

  • Jing

    Speaking of the lack of critical thinking. I’ve come to realize that the overwhelming majority of American’s and most people everywhere for that matter seem to be incapable of it themselves. Racial and social segregation by the Chinese students is being treated as if it were a “problem”. It isn’t, it is a solution and a good one at that. It helps the students socially by building strong relationships with people they could interact with on a professional level upon their return from China. It helps them emotionally in that it creates healthy bonds and decreases the sense of isolation by being in a foreign country at a young age by themselves. It also shields them from social ostracism from their erstwhile peers by creating a new peer group. Why should American students who have little desire to interact with Chinese students care if the Chinese desire to only associate with themselves? It also helps them academically as the Chinese students are able to pool information more efficiently, to counter-balance their lack of English language proficiency.
    The function of the University has been warped by modern liberalism. It is to instruct students by imparting useful knowledge. It is not so teenagers can have enjoy the college “experience” for four or more taxpayer subsidized years.
    I also got a kick out of Joyce Lau’s comment about her acquaintance committing a thought crime. Her reasoning is fully logical and backed up by empirical evidence. It is simply not a good idea to associate with poor blacks for a myriad of reasons. However stating that matter of factly is akin to a counter-revolutionary act and is “ignorant” and “racist”.

  • Zhang Lu

    I want to thank you for not just this article, but for your allowing comments on both sides of the issue. The Hidden Harmonies blog has run one of its typical “China can do no wrong” screeds on your article and every time I try to point out how isolated that blog and its various cronies over there have become, they delete me. I guess that shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. They also are attacking you for even having run this article. It’s a classic case of trying to kill the messenger.

  • pug_ster

    @Chris January 13, 2012 8:43 PM
    Nice try. For one thing, the link I displayed is from an anonymous survey of 12,000 high school students cheat on exams in the past year which is 74%, and the link you showed is how many Chinese high school students give false recommendations, nothing to do with cheating on exams. So you are comparing apples to oranges here.
    Second, if you google around, this ‘study’ of this 90% is from Zinch China and is coming from Tom Melcher who said himself that he “It’s impossible to collect reliable statistics about cheating,” and this 90% is just his estimate. His method of pulling that 90% is hardly scientific.

  • @ Jing. No, it is not a “good idea” to presume that all blacks are poor, dangerous criminals. It’s racist, and incorrect, and not backed up by “empirical evidence.”
    And saying these things is not very wise if you’re a new immigrant to a multicultural, open society. We’re discussing why Chinese students can’t seem to adapt well, and this is an example. Slinking away in fear from dark-skinned students is not going to make anyone look good on campus.
    My point was more about the tone-deafness of students who come from a sheltered and homogenous country. This person said these comments in a job interview. She honestly thought that this was a good thing to say to someone who had grown up in the U.S.
    Is she racist? Her comment was, though I don’t think she meant any harm. Was she ignorant? Yes, but by no fault of her own. Clearly, nobody had ever educated her.
    BTW, I never said she was criminal or counter-revolutionary. Please don’t put words in my mouth (or hers).
    I’m showing what might happen when a smart, nice, eager — but very misguided — young Chinese student suddenly comes into contact with a different culture.

  • @ Jing. What you call the “racial and social segregation by the Chinese students” IS a problem.
    You go to school for many reasons. Of course, you want the grades and degree. But you also want to learn — otherwise, we could all just skip the expensive practice of having universities and just send everyone home to memorize textbooks.
    Education means listening to teachers, asking questions, learning from mistakes and garnering skills that will be useful in the global workplace — like getting along with people from other countries, or being able to speak in a meeting or in public.
    Also, university should be a good time. If someone spends four years without friends, interests or entertainment outside of a small circle — how miserable that would be. When I went back to school for a while in the UK, I remember encouraging a Chinese student to come to a pub with us — she was worried that she didn’t drink. But something as small as a reassurance that she could have a juice or something was enough to help open her up.
    For Chinese students, it may be a rare chance to live in another culture and see another part of the world. It’s also a rare chance for them to learn the sort of fluent, conversational English that would be near impossible in their home country. If they’re frightened or ill-prepared to venture into broader society, then both the Chinese students — and the campus in general — suffers.
    Yes, it’s good to have “guanxi” to make money in the future. But you’d have to be a real cynic to think that that’s the only reason Chinese kids stick together.
    Honestly, I think they’re mostly scared — and that fright might come off as being defensive or snotty to outsiders. Overseas schools should do more to help. But I think the biggest changes should come from China — whether it’s improving the local education, or cracking down on fraudulent exam scores or applications.
    Of course, there are many Chinese kids who do adapt, make friends, and love their time overseas.

  • Ryan

    It is bad out there. I go to Maryland and what is described above is true here too, especially the cheating. And then we have people like pug_ster who tries to use one study of American high schoolers to claim that the Chinese students do not cheat any more than anyone else. All I know is what I see and here I see the students from China sit together on every test and pass notes and look at each others’ papers and talk in Chinese and that is cheating and I have not seen anyone else cheat on a test since I’ve been here and that is the truth and people like pug_ster who seek to wish this all away are just justifying the immorality and that is exactly why it will continue. In fact, people like pug_ster prove the point!

  • anon

    The reason that these Chinese students emphasize grades so much is because being a “top” student is necessary for success in China.
    Americans are lucky to live in a country where you don’t HAVE to graduate from a brand name college and have amazing grades to find a decent job and live a comfortable life. Consequently, many Americans are baffled as to why many Chinese students simply emphasize the degree itself and ignore the learning process. It is true that many Chinese students often choose degrees based on salary rather than passion, but this is a result of the pragmatic nature of Chinese culture. In country where competition is extremely fierce, college is primarily an investment for securing a decent job in the future. Sure, learning to be open minded and think for yourself is a bonus, but without a lucrative degree, college is thought of as useless in China.
    Of course, I am in no way condoning cheating. However, I do sympathize with students who feel there is no other option but to compromise their morals for practical gain. The system itself in China is very screwed up so that only a few succeed while the majority fail. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be one of those students towards the bottom, knowing that if you do not cheat, you may be screwed for life. (One more thing, while in America people say, “its does not matter what college you go to as long as you are passionate, have ambition, blah blah blah ” , in China where you go to college certainly MATTERS a lot)

  • Charles Liu

    @ Ryan, you look like a crusader of justice. Why don’t you turn these cheaters in? Or go after the professors who turn a blind eye to cheating, and school policy that admit/retain students from China because they pay high tuition?
    Or is it possible these bigoted perception are not backed up by facts? That the professors aren’t facilitating cheating? That a minority is being targeted and scapegoated? You should take look at history of prejudices against African-American students in our colleges, IMHO the sad story is repeating on yet another minotiry.
    Today’s racism isn’t the same overt kind of the past, rather this seemingly rational, justifiable kind of racism.

  • Ryan

    @Charles Liu
    I have three times reported the cheaters. Once, the prof pretty much claimed to be powerless. The other two times the profs said they’d be on the look-out during the next test and in one instance, three students were taken out of class and I haven’t seen them since. I am waiting for the next test in the third instance, but I am confident they will cheat again and get tossed. You can say whatever you want, but I know what I see and I know what my friends see and we have no desire to target anyone. In fact, my group of eight consists of two Asian-Americans, two African-Americans and one Hispanic, so nice try on trying to paint me and us as racists. It seems you either cannot deal with the truth or you know it and want to live in your fantasy world. I am there. I don’t know where you are, but I bet you are not a student. Also, it cannot be racism when the comments are about people from a country, not against a race. I agree with all those who say that they have not seen anything similar regarding those Chinese. from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong or the United States. It is not “the Chinese” who are doing this, it is those from China. Please your facts straight.

  • “….but this is a result of the pragmatic nature of Chinese culture”
    That’s like saying underpriveledged blacks and latinos in the urban ghetto sell drugs (something they wouldn’t do unless they had to), because black and latino culture is all about pragmatism. Jibberish.
    China is a developing country. People want money. Please do not bring culture into this. Culture (something of which China has in abundance) is something else entirely. We’re talking about Economic Development here, something China is about 30 years away from.

  • mbc

    Are you saying at Maryland, all tests are open tests and people are permitted to talk to each other and pass notes? Or are you saying at every single exam you have taken, you have witnessed Chinese students cheat. The scenario you describe seems odd. When I was in school not that long ago, people took exams, but there was no talking during exams and certainly nothing like passing notes occurred during exams. And yes, there was a large percentage of Chinese students at my school.
    Even if you had witnessed the students cheat, I am fairly certain you do not come across every single Chinese student at Maryland. It’s a large school. You cannot correlate the behavior of a few students to all Chinese students.
    Btw, when I was in college, I saw a white student stealing from the school store. It never occurred to me to think oh white people are thieves…

  • Ryan

    One more thing. I am only here because my comments over at Hidden Harmonies were deleted. I guess the truth really hurts.

  • anon

    @Charles Liu,
    That’s right Charles, all of the above is made up. None of it has anything to do with the students from China and everything to do with our all being racists. Sure Charles. Sure.

  • Ryan

    I have not seen all students from China cheat. I have not even seen a majority of those students cheat. I never said that all students from China cheat and I never believed that either. You are trying to put words in my mouth to make me into a racist, which I am not. All I am saying is that all of the cheating I have seen since I got here has been by students from China and no matter how you and others try to shake me off that observation, it isn’t going to happen and no matter how you and others try to justify the cheating or act as though it isn’t happening, that isn’t going to happen either.

  • Jean

    I am not familiar with the American school system. I am a German and have witnessed a lot of people cheating during exams, but those exams don’t matter cause those grades do not contribute to your graduation. Trying to cheat during your graduations exams are pretty much impossible. I’ve nver cheated in my live cause i do not see any benifits in doing so but even if i wanted to cheat as a regional sciences + law major I would’t even know how cause I have to write essays and at least one exam is always viva voce in regional sciences and graduation exams in law are all state examinations and you never know what case you are gonna get so no way to cheat either.
    My university is one of the biggest universities in Germany and we do have a lot of Chinese students. Most of them are studying business administration or engineering. I haven’t heard professors complaining about them. Their presentational skills are really crappy but they do try their best and I do know that German is not an easy language to learn. I’ve met a few Chinese students during my law classes and it was always an interesting conversation though it was a mix between German and Chinese and part of the conversation was in writing, cause the Chinese students can read and write German better than they can speak and understand. Those girls and a boy have already graduated from a Chinese university before coming to Germany. They spend most of their time studying at home cause it is much more difficult for them as it is for me to prepare for exams and stuff. And most of them work part time too. They simply don’t have much time to do anything else. But if you invite them they do participate.
    During my year at tsinghua university I’ve spent time with a couple of Chinese students playing soccer or volleyball, mostly guys cause girls don’t seem to do a lot of sports. And they were thinking of studying abroad. They told me that they really wanted to go to Germany cause you can’t buy your grades here. Getting into a German university is not really that tough you just have to pass the language exams but you are pretty much on your own after that and nobody cares if you graduate or when. But if you manage to graduate in Germany your chances of getting a decent job is higher than those graduated in the US or UK. I am not sure if that is true though but they were.
    Most foreign exchange students no matter from where do like to spent time with their own. The communication is just easier not just because they speak the same language but because they have the same cultural background. My time at Tsinghua was great and I made a lot of friends from different countries cause the first thing I did after checking into my dorm room was to organize a party for all newcomers in the dorm.
    It is saddening to hear that you seem to have so many problems with Chinese students in the US.

  • John

    As someone from the “older generation” of Chinese students, I did not know that there is now such frustration among American students towards Chinese students. My generation, we came on scholarships, studied in the best schools and graduated with close to perfect grades and a Ph.D. or a top MBA (both personally). We actively participated in class discussions and usually got top grades (in my MBA classes, usually 30% of the grades are from “participation”, you have to fight to get a chance to speak out). We hang-out with American students, as well as students from other countries, but we did hang-out a lot more with fellow Chinese students BECAUSE they were more likely to hang-out with us. I know I am just one data point, but I also know tens of my friends, who are now US citizens working in US, as scientists, engineers, managers, VPs, lawyers, doctors and professors, you name it.
    I really fail to understand what were all the complaints about. Was it really that “Chinese students don’t hang out with us”?, was it really that “Chinese students don’t participate in class discussions”? Or are we just not comfortable seeing all these “strange” people around? Did anyone ever tried to befriend a Chinese but got rejected? Shouldn’t one be happy that Chinese students do not participate in class so they won’t get as good grades as you do? If it is about cheating, simply tell the school and trust me, it is easier than you think to catch cheaters. So I really don’t see what exactly are we complaining about, other than the fact that there is this group of strange people who do not speak good English whom we do not like? If they came to talk to you, would you be patient and interested enough to talk back? If they decline a call to a drinking party, would you respect their choice by not calling them “uncool”? Maybe these young kids are not doing too well in a foreign country, but maybe they deserve a little sympathy than diss? Those complaints remind me of the complaints people in big Chinese cities have towards people from “inferior” cities: “they don’t speak good mandarin”, “they dress poorly”, “they are stingy”, etc. These sound familiar?
    You stereotype people only when you don’t know them individually.
    I want to laugh (OK, just smile) at those suggestions that fixing the kids’ English would solve the complaining, because the sense of entitlement is not going to be cured by fixing other people’s English.

  • Sharon

    Now we even have Hong Kong Chinese wanting to distance themselves from mainlanders over actions just like those above.
    I am Hong Kong Chinese and I know what is being said here is not racist because it is being said about a country, not a race. I also know it to be true because I have seen it here.

  • Charles Liu

    “I have three times reported the cheaters.”
    Three examples seem awfuly annecdotal to me. They don’t all even prove your accusation anyone cheated.
    “Once, the prof pretty much claimed to be powerless.”
    False, professors have academic standards to back them up. Name the professor who refuse to sanction cheating students, I will write a letter to complaint.
    “The other two times the profs said they’d be on the look-out during the next test”
    Have they scrutinized exams and caught anyone? If they caught no one then there’s no cheaters.
    “three students were taken out of class and I haven’t seen them since.”
    So your school doesn’t allow cheating, and does sanction cheaters. What is the outcome of these three cases? So when you agree with OP’s claim most/all students from China cheat, it’s really based on three examples of unknown outcome.
    “I am waiting for the next test in the third instance, but I am confident they will cheat again and get tossed.
    Innocent until proven guilty. Seems you have not proven gilt against anyone. I challenge you to name the people proven with cheating, I will write to your school to demand they be sanctioned to the fullest.
    “You can say whatever you want, but I know what I see and I know what my friends see and we have no desire to target anyone.”
    Yet you posted to agree with gross generalization that targeted a group of minority, specifically students from China. Substute this with “gay”, “fat”, “nerd”, see how you feel about it.
    “are about people from a country, not against a race”
    Thank you for proving my point about these gross generalization *about a country*.

  • mbc

    I believe you have witnessed Chinese students cheat. What I am saying is that that alone does not say much.
    The only people I have witnessed cheating and stealing happen to be white people (in fact, one of my white coworkers just got fired for embezzling from the company). I, however, do not go around websites screaming about white people cheating and stealing. Because I know common sense dictates that there will be bad apples in every population…
    I have met good Chinese people and I have met bad Chinese people, I have met good white people and I have met bad white people… it’s life. What I have a problem with is how certain people pick on the Chinese and if one or two or three Chinese people do bad things then all Chinese are guilty by association…

  • Tommy Banks

    I tried to leave this comment at the All Roads Lead to China blog and the Hidden Harmonies blog but it looks like they are both going to block it so I am going to leave it here.
    I read Dan’s post and I see exactly where he is coming from. It is wrong to call the post racist when all he does is list the comments he keeps hearing and especially when he takes care to comment that he finds these comments “troubling.” Calling the post racist is like calling someone anti-semetic for writing about the holocaust. There is a difference between reporting facts and joining in with them.
    If you found it strange why Dan did the post at all and you don’t see a point to it, why did you run a post on his post? Don’t you realize the point was to expose the hatreds running rampant on U.S. campuses right now so that we can dissect them and figure out what we as responsible adults can do about it, beyond just calling people racists. Dan’s final paragraph sums it all up.
    “I know we are going to get comments from people criticizing the students who made the above comments (and me for publishing them), but I think the more fruitful comments will address what can be done to help bridge this massive fissure. I would also love to see people address what this university-level tension portens for future China-US relations. I will note that I have heard Australia and the UK are dealing with the same sorts of issues.
    What, if anything, needs to change?”
    Dan’s post is one of the most forward-thinking posts I’ve read yet on Chinese-American relations and I am celebrating it. I am a 33 year-old Chinese-American and all I can say is that I sure wish there had been something like this written when I was a kid so that the hatreds I had to go through could have been brought out into the open and discussed so that I could have known that I wasn’t alone and so that others would have known what was happening. We should be thanking Dan for exposing this, not hating on him as though he is to blame for having been the messenger.

  • Tim

    -“Why don’t you turn these cheaters in? ”
    – “I have three times reported the cheaters.”
    -“Three examples seem awfuly annecdotal to me. They don’t all even prove your accusation anyone cheated.”
    You asked him why he didn’t turn these cheaters in; he mentions that he did and now your not satisfied that he did a good enough job of identifying them as cheaters and create a straw man argument all at once.
    – “Or go after the professors who turn a blind eye to cheating, and school policy that admit/retain students from China because they pay high tuition?”
    – “Once, the prof pretty much claimed to be powerless.
    – “False, professors have academic standards to back them up. Name the professor who refuse to sanction cheating students, I will write a letter to complaint.”
    You tell him to go after the professors who turn a blind eye to cheating and he tells you what happened when he approached his professor and you essentially call him a liar by quoting something vague about academic standards.
    – “The other two times the profs said they’d be on the look-out during the next test”
    – “Have they scrutinized exams and caught anyone? If they caught no one then there’s no cheaters.”
    If the professor did not see it then it did not happen?
    – “I am waiting for the next test in the third instance, but I am confident they will cheat again and get tossed.”
    – “Innocent until proven guilty. Seems you have not proven gilt against anyone. I challenge you to name the people proven with cheating, I will write to your school to demand they be sanctioned to the fullest.”
    This is just bizarrely personal and disingenuous.
    – “You can say whatever you want, but I know what I see and I know what my friends see and we have no desire to target anyone.”
    – “Yet you posted to agree with gross generalization that targeted a group of minority, specifically students from China. Substute this with “gay”, “fat”, “nerd”, see how you feel about it.”
    You may not like Ryan’s posts, hell he even may be lying about not ever seeing anyone else cheating accept Chinese students but instead of addressing the underlying issue you’ve managed to imply that he is a racist when this entire thread and the post that sparked it is about Chinese mainland students behavior at schools abroad.
    – “are about people from a country, not against a race”
    – “Thank you for proving my point about these gross generalization *about a country*.”
    Gross generalizations or not, you’re so angry that you’ve lost the point of Ryan’s post. Ryan does not suggest that Chinese are inferior, in fact he does not offer up any argument as to why the Chinese he and his fellow students are familiar with behave the way they do. You may not like it, and I doubt Ryan is terribly happy about the situation either; however, labeling Ryan or others a racist does not solve the problem of many Chinese mainland students being inadequately prepared for life and study abroad. From my own experience and from many of the posts here, it would appear to be an institutional as well as a cultural problem.
    BTW, labeling someone as a racist without actually addressing the root cause of his prejudices (which you have not at all in this post) is precisely why racism in the US today is not overt.

  • Kai Zhang

    From my name you can tell that I am a kid from Mainland China. It is very sad to see all of the negative comments about Chinese students. I clearly know that they are true to a certain extent. Nonetheless, I would like everyone to hear my voice.
    I would be reluctant to admit that Chinese students do not want to make friends with locals, at least in my college. I go to Washington University in St. Louis, which is a very good institution that I was luckily got admitted in. My Chinese peers, from what I can tell, try to make any friends if possible. From what I see, there are some American students who are holding negative, or hosteling attitudes toward Chinese student. I don’t think anyone will continue to seek friendship from locals if a local told him:” kid, if you do not speak English, go home.” I myself encountered this case. Luckily, I have never stopped to make friends from all over the world, but I do think that I am one of a few exceptions.
    My fellow Chinese students’ English is not too bad either. Their presentations are not perfect because of certain language barriers, but they do a nice job, definitely not some “non-intellectual stuff.” Most of them, if not all, do not cheat. They are as honest as their American peers, from my observation.
    Don’t make me wrong. I think my experience is so much different from you guys’ observation in that different schools have very difference sorts of Chinese students. Large public schools may have less resources and more desperate financial needs when recruiting foreign students. In some extreme cases, those schools will take anyone they can find on a street in China. In some other more prestigious schools, students get more close examination when admitted, and the schools have less urge financially to accept too many unqualified students.
    There are already too much bias and prejudice in the world. Why do we want to make more?

  • LOLZ

    I think it’s time for someone to present the views of the “American students” to the Chinese foreign students and see what they have to say.

  • TB

    I for one would like to see you weigh in on all (or at least some of the comments you have received here) and while you are at it, comment on all that is being said about you at Hidden Harmonies as well.

  • Charles Liu

    You bet I’ll be looking for specifics when people are echoing the sentiments like “they all cheat”, “school don’t care/help them cheat”, “the don’t socialize with us” (is anyone actually required to socialize? That’s a two-way street, and I maintain the African-American college student’s experience mirrors this.)
    Also it’s a very serious indictment of our entire higher education system, when all these people seems to be suggesting US universities all over are taking Chinese student’s money and letting them cheat so to retain them, collectively turning their backs on established academic standards!
    Without specifics how do you prove such a serious conspiracy allegation against our universities? Do the accused not have the right to face their accusers? Is it possible this conspiracy theory of collective abandonment of academic standards isn’t real, and the cheating is simply exaggerated and amplified by prejudices?
    It’s a real problem that our underfunded universities are admitting more out of state/country students over local applicants. But to scapegoat the students from China with bigoted generalization and unproven/illogical accusations is not right.

    • T J

      So, I’m a college student at Iowa State University. Here’s my personal observation of cheating in an engineering course here.

      Imagine a small-to-medium sized room that descends in an arc towards the ground level. The room hosts roughly ~100 students. Every day of lecture, about 10 Chinese international students sit front and center in the first 1-3 rows. This is something suggested to all incoming students, as students who sit in the T formation (front row and center column of a room) statistically perform better than those who sit in the back/corners.

      Anyways, this is a standard that these 10 students follow EVERY lecture, always in the front.

      Then comes Exam 1. These 10 students line the very back two rows, where the back-most row has a bit of an elevation boost compared to the others. I end up sitting in a backrow seat right near the aisle (the international kids made sure to be centered) and in the second row, you can clearly see those students glancing down and to their left (at the other student’s papers). A friend of mine after turning in his exam, as he walked up the stairs, he could see a glimpse of an electronic device on one of the students in the very back row.

      The TAs who were overseeing the exam did little to confront any possible cheating. They preferred to stay at ground level and not patrol the class. My friend and I sent an email to the professor regarding this, and he said there was nothing that could be done since the students weren’t caught in the act.

      First lecture after the exam, they went right back to sitting in the front.

      Exam 2 rolls around, and the professor himself is overseeing the classroom, and again those students line the back two rows. Perhaps because the professor is a Chinese immigrant himself, he didn’t hesitate regarding the confrontation of their possible cheating. On his own, he noticed their glances and soft murmuring to one another. He issued a class-wide warning mid-exam, but the body language, presence at their location in the room, and his direct gaze at the 10 kids made it obvious that they were the ones being warned.

      As I progress farther into engineering curriculum here at Iowa State, I am finding that other students have observed the same sorts of behavior in different classes, to the extent of some students writing to the dean of the engineering college in complaint.

      The reason cheating is so abhorred is because it can cost other students money in the form of having to retake courses. There are ‘fail classes’ and weed-out classes here at Iowa State. Fail classes are entirely based upon a curve, as a 50% can sometimes be a C. They are made to be difficult beyond belief. Then there are weedouts, which generally have a curve of ~65% being a C. These classes are unforgiving to those who struggle with learning the material, and they tend to move quickly.

      In the case of either, cheating is important. Cheating unfairly raises the curve, and can indirectly cost students who deserve to pass (in comparison to the rest of the class) the tuition costs of another semester by putting them behind.

      • BobbyWong

        TJ, convicting all Chinese students on your suspecion of 10 is the definition of stereotype.

  • Reality Bites

    I am appalled by most of the comments (don’t worry Dan, I do not join with those who blame you for reporting on them) you refer to in your articel and I just wish those who made them would look within themselves and ask what efforts they have made to remedy the situations they describe. How many of them are taking Mandarin? How many of them TRULY sought to reach out to the Chinese students? How many of them sought to confirm that the conversations they were hearing during the tests were actually cheating and not just socializing? I agree with those who think the comments by the students in Dan’s post reflect more on them than on their fellow students.

  • WS

    I join with those wishing you would weigh back in on all of the issues being raised in the comments and even on the other blogs. In particular, does it bother you to be called racist? I think that is incredibly unfair and I cannot believe how you seem to maintain your equanimity despite all of that. I want to see you lash out.

  • I am a native Chinese from Mainland China, and have been in the states for over 5 years and obtained my PhD in Chemical Engineering last summer. Here are some of my responses.
    I come to US to learn, not only for grades. I love education here addressing way more on critical thinking and original work of oneself.
    I do ask/answer questions and volunteer to do presentations in class, ’cause I understand that class participation is important, and is also a good way to practice my poor English.
    I won department graduate seminar award for my graduate work presentation (of course in English, and of course among many American graduate students)
    My graduate adviser is proud of having me as a graduate research assistant, and encourages me to recommend more student from my undergraduate university to apply.
    Many of my Chinese friends work in the student government and other student associations.
    I do talk a lot with Americans, as well as other foreigners (Indians, Koreans.. you name it)
    I never cheated, and I am proud of that. All my GRE, TOFEL, GPA are solid based on my hard work.
    You friend who has high GPA and SATs but is not admitted in certain university can not be solely attributed to admission of Chinese students. Go ask himself why he is not qualify, not blame the others; or may be you are accusing the unfairness of the university admission process.
    “I’ve heard that most of them cheated to get in.” give me some proof! I also heard some really ugly behaviors of Americans in China, since I’ve never seen it, I would never write such a statement.
    We attribute diversity to the university, both in academia and extracurricular activities.
    “I tried to speak with some of them, but they clearly had no interest.” Maybe your topic does not interest them at all?For example, I love fashion, travel and my research topics, and absolutely have nothing to say about football.
    “This is a great way to ruin relations between China and us.” After reading all these unfounded observations or “accusations”, I think it is kind of ruining my nicest impressions on Americans.

    • MsMissy

      I’m wondering if you spoke English in your labs? And was speaking English a requirement to studying at a US university?

  • Charles Liu

    Yes, Dan, I too would like to hear you weigh in on the validity of these accusations. For example, the accusation that our universities have collectively abandoned established academic standards and are participate in a conspiracy to allow students from China to cheat so they can retain the high tuition payments.

  • I don’t know if anyone has said it already (because I’ve not had enough time to read all the previous comments), but those are the same complaints about [mainland] Chinese students in HONG KONG by Hongkongers.

  • TIm

    And none of the quotes you have presented are from Ryan.
    I realize that tempers flare when issues like this are raised but by insisting someone is suggesting that there is a nationwide conspiracy to undermine vague notions of academic standards is not a real or meaningful contribution to what is a serious perception problem of Mainland Chinese studying abroad.
    The number of accusations of racism or borderline racism that have occurred here and other blogs makes me wonder if the people using these words understand their meaning. Accusations of bigotry and racism do nothing to assist with clearing up misconceptions but rather are intended to embarrass or chastise those holding the beliefs. Not an effective way to resolve a perception problem but I suppose it can make you feel better for venting.

  • Zhou

    I am from China and I came to US for collage about 4 years ago. I actually read all the comments and I appreciate all the attention and comments people had given to this post and wanted to make a change in their own way.
    I think it is a shame that we gave people the impression of “zero class contribution”, “cheaters”, “anti-social”, etc.. I have to admit that there are all true. I do see lots of rich kids from China that had no interest in studying at all. What’s really happening is that they couldn’t get into any collage at China so their parents had no choice but sending them here expecting they would actually study here. BUT every garden has rotten tomatoes and every university has good/bad student regardless of their nation. Do not apply your opinion to all Chinese.It is very unfair to these Chinese students who worked really hard for the past 10 years to get into a US collage and had never ever cheated in their lift and still have to fight to change people’s opinion about “Chinese stereotypes”. It is sad to read comment like “they always cheat”, “they cheated all their way to get it”, “I cannot even stand having to listen to them give presentations” I guess these are kinda hurtful to read.
    At China, we would understand that it takes longer for a foreigner to complete a speech and we are very grateful that people are learning our language and trying to communicate with us.
    I think it all comes down to what SCHOOL has been doing. They didn’t care about the quality of their students as long as they get money from it.
    I think this is a good post that got people’s attention and hopefully someone will do something about it.

  • Serk

    “Thinking about the students’ remarks about cheating — In a way these Chinese students are teaching Americans about themselves: we, too, will betray our own rules and ideas of fairness if there’s enough money involved.”
    That’s the most tortured tu quoque argument I’ve read in a long time.

  • Charles Liu

    Every quote I made here came from Ryan:
    I’m not from mainland china, and with the “excluded” honor bestowed on me, I really have no dog in this fight. But you know what, if calling a spade a spade upsets you, perhaps some introspection is in order.
    Perhaps we can come to some solution about our problem, rather than scapegoating a minority group of people.

  • Tim

    “they all cheat”, “school don’t care/help them cheat”, “the don’t socialize with us”
    None of these quotes came from Ryan; they are of your own design.
    You have not addressed my point other than throwing them back at me. I’m not attempting to scapegoat the problem and have addressed them in my original comment to this thread.

  • A degree from the West has become a status symbol in China in recent times, and the whole process has become commoditised. Increasingly, fewer students come with the intention of working in the West after graduation, much less becoming an immigrant eventually. As such, there’s little incentive for them to assimilate culturally and linguistically. As dramatized in my debut novel “Shanghai Girl,” I came to the U.S. for grad school in the late eighties with $40 and no other source of income (as international students, we weren’t allow to work other than on campus as research assistants towards partial tuition waiver — the only legal way I could put myself thru grad school). Having had a prior generation of family members educated in the US, returned to China before 1949, then persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, I, and many others in our cohort then were determined to stay after graduation despite difficulties with the INS (Many of us eventually became PRs thru the Bush Sr. amnesty following 6.4.1989). We were diligent and ambitious in the West and, as China took the course of bamboo capitalism, became increasingly amphibious culturally. Today’s students from China have need to adapt to the foreign culture beyond the minimum survival level. After all, more and more foreigners are learning/have learned to speak Chinese — Kevin Rudd, John Huntsman, and Kirsten Gillibrand come to mind. … well, to MY mind at least. Many Chinese students studying in the West may not know who these people are, at least not their names in the original English form. They don’t need to.

  • I join with those who thank you for raising this issue and I apologize for my fellow Chinese-Americans who say that you bringing it up makes you a racist or a bigot. They are the racists and bigots. You are seeking change and they just want to shut you up. They’re actions make me think that they profit (literally) from hatreds between the people.

  • Devil Man

    Why does everyone so badly want Dan to weigh in on the comments that the students made? Hasn’t he done so by saying they are troubling and calling for change? What exactly do you all want him to say? That not all students from China are as described? Is there anyone who actually believes that they are? Is there anyone who actually believes Dan thinks that they are? Or do you want him to say that not just Chinese students cheat or care only about grades? Does anyone think this is not true? Does anyone think Dan thinks this is not true? I just read all of the comments on here and doing so makes me appreciate Dan’s post even more because almost all of the comments are at such a high level. Those who are want Dan to come on here and tell us all the obvious are writing at a low level, Charles Liu in particular.

  • GC

    At first I kept thinking also that Dan should come on here and respond to the comments like he does sometimes on other posts. Then I started wondering why he wasn’t. Now I think I know. I think he is intentionally maintaining silence because he has managed to achieve what he wanted all along: to spur discussion. This post isn’t about Dan. We don’t need Dan to tell us what he thinks. Dan is no expert on Chinese-American relations (he has told me that many times) and I don’t see why he should be an expert on what is going on with those relations on college campuses. He wrote his piece and now he is letting us debate the real issues. Dan, am I right about this? Will you at least respond to this?

  • Charles Liu

    Show me where I quoted those as from Ryan? I showed you where I quoted Ryan already. I said those are the sentiments being echoed, not quoting anyone:
    “…people are echoing the sentiments like…”
    Please read more carefully. BTW where’s Ryan and his specific allegations? Suddenly there’s no follow up.

  • Steven Kim

    Those who are calling on Dan to come on here and refute the comments are insulting our intelligence. Dan calls the comments troubling. Do you really want him to say that he wants everyone to know that not all students from China are this way? Do you really want him to say that not all American students feel this way? Don’t you understand the point of this piece. I am going to use from a comment left by “Kai” on another blog about this.
    “I think it was abundantly obvious that Dan recognizes them as generalizations and stereotypes, or at the very least, there is no evidence that he doesn’t. The motivation for him posting was precisely that he’s hearing such generalizations and stereotypes more often, and from people he personally didn’t expect to hear such sentiments from. Surely Dan isn’t the only person in the world who has ever been surprised by another person holding a position or opinion they didn’t expect that person to have.
    I also think it is abundantly obvious that Dan accurately represented them as targeting a minority group of overseas mainland Chinese students. No one needs to “conclude” that. It’s spelled out.
    What you characterize an “escape clause” is nothing more than a clarification of the sentiments held by those who are complaining. Those people apparently went out of their way to indicate that their sentiments are directed specifically at mainland Chinese overseas students, not those from “Hong Kong or Taiwan or Singapore or Malaysia or the Philipines or the United States”. Dan relays that. It’s like clarifying that your allegation of Western media bias is directed at the NYT and not the WSJ. This is not difficult to understand.
    I think he made his position quite clear: He finds the comments and complaints “troubling” and he wonders “what, if anything, needs to change”. There is such a position as “noticing something and wanting to discuss it”.
    If you’re demanding that he reiterate that he knows stereotypes and generalizations don’t apply absolutely, that not all mainland Chinese overseas students fit the complaints he’s heard, then you’re insulting his intelligence, and your own. That’s not a victory we should be seeking. You at least need some persuasive evidence of him arguing that such stereotypes apply absolutely. There isn’t any. He never says or suggests all mainland Chinese overseas students are like this or that stereotype….

  • I am a little late to this. I came upon this article when referred by a fellow blogger. I actually have a rather allergic reaction to this piece.
    My goal is to move forward, not to engage in personal diatribes. But I feel the effects of posts like this is negative enough to warrant a strong response.

  • Anon

    THIS is why I am leaving teaching here in China. I am quitting teaching here because of the cheating. I currently teach at a leading Law School. English is mandatory and the bane of my educational year is the term I get the doctorate students. I don’t know if they work in their other classes. I know I never hear the sounds of anything but lectures echoing down the hallway when I am in the halls; there is no interaction with the teacher other than what appears to be direct answers to canned questions.
    Students are called on, stand up and recite what they have memorized and sit down. An education is a purchase here. Whatever a students retains from 4 years of memorized tests is ancillary. Thinking is very teleological; to get X I need a doctorate, so I pay the money to get a doctorate and get X. It is a means to an end and students do not wish to be bothered with knowledge for the sake of application, they wish to be told what to memorize so they can get the A. In over 4 years in China I have never heard of a student not graduating and each class I poll to see if any have ever heard of such a thing. The idea is preposterous. They pay tuition, so of course they get their degree. That would be like making installment payments on a car and not getting the car. It is a product or a means to an end. All my efforts at applicative or problem solving have failed.
    It is a different culture. Teaching was my means to an end. I used it to learn the language and culture. But I thought I might teach some kids. Not sure if I did. When you give up on teaching and can spend 16 hours a week giving students lists of things to memorize you can learn the language quick. I definitely gave up and everybody was happy that I did but me. I wanted them to learn.
    Those bound for the private sector or come in from the private sector knowing that the doctorate is the piece of paper for the promotion are just going through the motions. But the vast majority have no idea what they bought. Their parents chose their degree and they get the piece of paper that is a “key” and will graduate, walk out the door and wonder what door the key opens. Not a one of them could help you sue anyone, but they could get you a settlement. The idea of a trial is ludicrous.
    The real question is this: why get a degree? Most western thinkers will give you some sort of ontological answer about the value of the existence of knowledge and its application. In China it is about the value of obtaining a thing so you can get something else that you want. The teleological view devalues the journey through the educational process and hence the gaping hole of creativity except in design and patent numbers based on model-design patents, which are ideas about what a good idea would be if somebody else figured out how to do it; which is not accepted as a patent outside of China and a whopping % of the patents China posts at the WIPO year after year as evidence of its rising. Kinda like when Bush lowered pollution standards and then issued press releases about how he reduced the amount of pollution.
    Great post. Thanks for your insights. I also agree that my Chinese was horrible when I was surrounded by English speaking teachers. I am as guilty as the Chinese students – there is comfort in language in a strange land and I do not fault foreign students that tend to follow pack mentality. I was the same. Few US students have the filial bond that Chinese students do and I cheating comes easy at home and is a matter of survival. Failure is not an option and I feel pity for the pressure they are placed under to cheat and anger at teachers like myself who have just given on stopping it. Just pay the foreign student tuition is all the US schools say I imagine. Hard times back there. Probably nice to see some of our money make it back home, even if we have to rubber stamp some useless degrees that will be taken back to China and placed on the wall like a pheasant killed in a canned hunt.
    Must be vacation….sorry for the long winded reply.

  • Anon

    Lots of great comments and thoughts here and kudos to Dan for putting up this post. I am very happy to see that most of the comments have not degraded to the intolerant that one often sees elsewhere (whether on the NYT or other places).
    I think that when it comes to making friends at university and you’re foreign that it can be very challenging. I’m from the US, did university in the US and then studied in Beijing for 2 years immediately afterwards. Whilst there was definitely ethnic clusters in my university in the US, there was a fair bit of integration, though my Indian friend who majored in Chinese said he felt excluded when he tried to join Chinese clubs or such activities, even though he spoke the language. I can only fairly talk about my personal experiences below.
    I know that when I studied in Beijing, I found it extremely difficult to make real local friends. Some folks would just want you to be a free English teacher/language partner and I didn’t want to just be stuck in my foreign students dorm (FYI – Chinese students always had to register, others did not…). So I asked my kind professor to hook me up with the local ping pong club (headed by some of the top players in the university!).
    The club let me in, and join sessions (it was mostly casual) and whilst everyone was nice and I stood out like a sore thumb, the one thing was that it was hard to make friends. I only spoke Chinese (not great by any means) – to make people comfortable, went every week, and even got phone numbers of students of both sexes. But when I would sms them to get a bite at the university canteen, I’d either never get a response or something like “I can’t.”
    Luckily I met a student from Yunnan who liked hanging out with us foreign kids and she’s a great friend to this day (we all live in different places). My best Chinese friends or relationships from my 2 years in Beijing were: my professor (who I still speak with today), the fine folks who run the small unofficial restaurant in my neighborhood, the girl from Yunnan, and a guy from another university (who just finished his PHD at Cambridge).
    Most local students were either scared or too busy to care. Funny thing is, most others were happy to speak, chat, and meet up (cabbies, neighbors on occasion, the odd passerby, etc). But students… I don’t get it to this day.

  • Duminda Roshan

    Some very uncool and dubious statements and comments here both in the original article and the ongoing debate. This is definately not good. Provacative yes but at the price of decency and any well intentioned motives imho.

  • ltlee

    Most Americans can’t tell a Chinese from a Japanese or a Korean, let alone Chinese from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

  • Charles Liu

    @Steven Kim
    I for one did not get the message you seem to be channeling. Look at the “it’s bad” statement embedded in the URL, I’m not sure what he means by “troubling”. Look at all the comments echoing the sentiments expressed in the OP – “yeah, it’s all true, totally happening at my school too”, seemingly from highly educated, intelligent, well traveled people that reads CLB.
    Do you think main stream folks who read this really “get” that it’s about bigotry? Or they are seeing this piece as validation of their bigotry? Seems folks on both sides are asking Dan to weigh in, and we are all highly educated, intelligent, well traveled people and it wouldn’t be a waste of his time to clearify at all.
    But I can see a problem with Dan publically repudiating his friends kids, as it may imply these kids learned to be bigots from their parents.

  • realist

    Thanks guys at china law blog, you just have nudged more of this:
    Chicago: Six teenagers were arrested by Chicago police after a video was posted online showing a 17-year-old Asian boy brutally beaten by unknown assailants while another filmed the attack.
    The six attackers were being questioned by the police in what appeared as a racial attack as the teenagers could be heard repeating racial slurs and making derogatory comments about speaking Chinese in the footage.
    The attack video posted on YouTube proved to be helpful for the police during their investigation.
    The incident, according to Daily Mail, happened in an alley close to a school in the Bridgeport area of Illinois.
    The video showed an Asian teen being beaten by a gang of masked youths- wearing sweat shirt hoods over their heads. They were seen repeatedly kicking and punching the boy and laughed while they attacked him with punches.
    The victim was also hit head and dragged on the snow-covered ground.
    The attackers were also seen used a shoe and a chunk of ice to strike the victim, as he, in broken English pleaded them to spare him.
    Authorities said the victim is of Asian descent, but despite the epithets, police said the beating did not appear racially motivated.
    The victim was taken to a hospital for a laceration to his lip, bruising and abrasions, authorities said.
    Police said the motive was robbery. The attackers allegedly took a pair of gym shoes, the victim’s wallet and nearly $200 in cash.
    The videotaped attack on a teen in Chicago isn’t the first to go viral. In 2009, footage of the fatal beating of a 16-year-old honor student was circulated worldwide.

  • Ryan

    @Charles Liu,
    You are sick if you think that the reason I didn’t respond to your comments was that you had somehow managed to prove your points. I didn’t respond to your comments because they had become so ridiculous and hateful that I came to realize that I was dealing with a total nut-job and so my attempts at being reasonable would simply fall flat. You can comment on here all you want and my friends and I (including my many Chinese-American) friends can just sit back and laugh at you trying to shove it down our throats that you are of the Master Race. You are a racist hater and I am not going to have anything more to do with you and just to drive you even crazier, I want you to know that I am never going to come back here to read your response so you might as well not even bother.

  • Stephen S.

    When I read about the beating in Chicago, I jokingly told a friend of mine that someone is now going to come on here and blame China Law Blog for that. We both laughed and agreed that would never happen. The fact that it has speaks volumes about the lengths some people will go to to quash civilized discourse.

  • Antoine

    You have really created the firestorm on this one. Many blogs are writing about your post, calling you a racist and all that. But my favorite was this one: written by someone who knows and he says its all true, just as I suspected.

  • Vox Populi

    I admire you for doing this post and for accepting all the comments, pro and con. I especially admire you for not jumping into the fray and responding to the jerks who are trying to race-bait you. I don’t expect you to respond to them and I don’t want you to. You have obviously said what you have wanted to say and see no need to say anything more and I like that too.

  • Mrs. Jackson

    I want to join with those who want you to tell us that prejudice is bad and want to hear you say that 100% of the students from China here in the United States have not done 100% of the things these students have accused them of and that there are people from other countries (including the United States) who do those things. I want to hear you say that because until you do, I will think it isn’t true.

  • material girl

    Don’t really have anything to say. Just leaving this so that you get to 200 comments as I hear that improves the Google ranking and I want a lot of people to see this as it is a topic that we all should be discussing.

  • Eisenberg

    I’ve been reading this blog pretty much since you started and I’ve always been a fan but this is the best and most important post you have done and everyone is talking about it, both on the net and off. Keep up the great work!

  • ANON

    This is getting off topic. This discussion is not about racism per se. This discussion is about the role of universities and degrees and the financial pressures that interfere with education. My understanding is you earn a degree. If a US student chooses to say nothing in class and not participate socially there is no issue so long as the student fairly completes and learns the material taught and receives a grade that is objectively earned. That is what universities do; they are the gatekeepers to the value of a degree from a university. When universities, for foreign students or US students, begin rubber stamping degrees it devalues the degree and hence the “investment” and employability of other students holding degrees from that university. I have seen grade sheets handed in here in China with every single student receiving above a 90. That is impossible.
    You do not purchase a degree, you earn it. Race, socialization, foreign tuition, none of that should be a factor that comes between what a student does in a classroom and what the teacher gives that student as a result of that performance. The performance should be a fair and objective measure of the student’s ability. Period.
    US students are used to this. Students who have never received less than a 90 don’t get this. The cultural revolution left a 15 year hole in education in China and though I feel the teachers do the best they can, they themselves may only be capable of teaching the class via the book. I am FINALLY hearing from law students telling me that their teachers teach strategy and trial technique here in China, but those reports are few and far between. Chinese students come from a disadvantaged educational system, they face language and cultural barriers and for the first time find themselves tested on their ability to apply what they learn in class through active learning. They are one child generation beneficiaries of years of investment, schools are strapped for cash and China has it.
    We can pity the economy, the educational and cultural and everything: this is not a discussion about race per se. It is a discussion about what it is to earn a degree versus buy a degree. Crap should be rolling up hill on this one, not down hill on the Chinese student who was sent here by his/her parents. University entrance standards, accreditation committees, applicant screeners: Those granting to degrees and teachers passing students based on pressure from the top should be yanked from the system. Yes, universities are for profit, but there are objective measures that must be me before a student gets into a classroom and receives a degree. To my knowledge, how much money the parents have, the race or gender of the student or any other irrelevant issues being discussed here address the issue of “deflation” – of stealing the value of a diploma from a university when employers view that university as rubber stamping degrees.
    Keep to the issue. ALL foreign students face challenges that native students do not, but this isn’t about affirmative action: did the student earn the degree? That is the question. I would say that there is evidence that degrees are being granted based on financial considerations. This is objectively wrong.
    It has nothing to do with race or the social interaction. My class had a group of 9 students who never spoke in class, never attended functions and only spoke to each other in slang I didn’t understand and appeared to be really crappy students; they were potheads. They showed up in Grateful Dead shirts and you smell the weed on them as if they lit one up right before class. Some passed, some flunked out. Same thing, different criteria of separation. The result should be identical. Should rich potheads pass? No? Should high tuition paying foreign students pass? No. You pass when you earn a degree.
    As a teacher 12% of my grade is based on class participation. No student can sit silently in my class and get an A. You will speak, you will tell me what you thought of the assignment and you will discuss the application of that knowledge in a way that is not simply a recitation of what was in the book. That is in every syllabus. Every student gets called on and either they do or do not earn the points when their name is called. Each student gets one “pass” per term, but they will be called on 4 times at 3 points per call. I score them on the spot based on their answer. Class participation problem solved. No talking, no learning, no application, no ability to transfer that knowledge to something other than pure definition form then no A.
    Any teacher who does not take the time to monitor those in attendance should find another job. If a university appears to be catering to rubber stamped diplomas for foreign tuition students then the students should form committees and file complaints with the state accreditation committee to prevent the devaluation of their investments in the university and the value the degree should merit. Race of the student or the tuition paid is not an issue. The fact that US students feel that the value of their degree is being diminished because foreign students are held to lesser standards should follow the procedures for lodging those complaints. The race of the students will obviously be an issue if the foreign tuition is the cause of the problem. That is inevitable; that is not racism, it is the basis of the complaint, the right of the student and, if true, a sell out of the education system by universities that should have their accreditation suspended or revoked. There are procedures for this folks. Last I heard the US was still a rule of law country.
    I have been treated in China. They can be very kind. They can also double charge you for goods because “negotiating” for price (tao jia huan jia) is considered a skill. I have felt it to be racist. If I want to buy a product in any situation where the price is not set I travel with a Chinese friend, touch the product, let my Chinese friend negotiate the price then come back to pay. Quite often the seller angry because he feels he could have gotten more money out of me. Not as bad as getting your butt kicked and having it posted on Youtube…but since that is blocked here there has been no outrage. I face kindness and racism every day. So do Chinese students. However, cheating is not deemed as demonic as in the US. There is a cultural gap and teachers CAN stop it. I bought 4 broken cameras. When I give a test I place one in each corner of the room and “turn it on” and then give the tests. There are two versions of each test so the person sitting next to you has a different test. I also show them staged footage of students caught cheating and say they were forced to retake the class. A little dog and pony show but it does the trick.
    Don’t blame race, blame people and only blame people based on the intent of their actions and forces that motivate those actions. Even killing is OK in self defense – lets start with that extreme and narrow our thinking down to the interaction of money, grading and educating. It isn’t race that is causing the problem, it is the money.

  • Charles Liu

    Well, unwilling or unable to back up your allegation is fine with me. I’ll let your last response speak for itself.
    Dan obviousely recognizes the sentments he received are stereotypes and bigoted. I agree with him that it is very troubling that in today’s society this kind of prejudices persists even with intelligent, worldly people.
    Looks like those of you who agreed with them have some soul search to do. Dan thank you and my apologies; you even had me fooled for a moment 😎

  • cunning Linguist

    Charles Liu, I noticed on the HH blog that you had referred to an “Escape Goat” in one of your posts. Since you are clearly in possession of a superior level of English comprehension, and my request for clarification on the said blog has been blocked, assumedly to make way for the 7 regular posters, I’d be interested to learn more about this rare and pitiful breed of Bovidae.

  • Rainbow

    I too find it shocking that Dan is coming in for such intense criticism for just repeating out what he has heard is happening between college students now. I think it crazy to criticize him for not having gone out and interviewed students from China about the statements being made by the students not from China. Dan writes this blog as a sideline to his regular business. This is not a newspaper, it’s a blog. The statements Dan set out came from years of casual conversations, not reporting. It seems to me the whole point of his article was to draw out all views on the issue, including those from students from China and what is so great is that he got a lot of them commenting above. I am sure that he got more comments from students from China just by running this article than he would have gotten trying to stalk them at various Universities. Did you really expect him to design and undertake a real survey of college students from China all across the country? Nothing is stopping any of you from doing that, but I don’t think that will change a thing. The point of the article was to describe the “fissure” that exists between students from China and other students. The point was not to prove that any of the statements were true. The truth of the statements is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that so many students feel that way about students from China and these are smart students who don’t feel that way about any other students, which shows how deep and serious the problem really is. I am bothered by how few people want to try to solve the problem. I am bothered by that because I am a Chinese-American at University of Illinois and all of these issues are flaming here right now and I wish people would focus on solutions not anger.

  • Ryan

    @Charles Liu,
    I promised I wouldn’t return here but now I have to know why you suddenly completely change your tune on Dan without Dan even saying anything to cause it. What caused your big shift? Was that really you or did someone just write it claiming to be you? Or are you bi-polar on top of everything else?

  • anon

    Dan, over at the HH blog they have now moved on from blaming you for the beating of that Chinese kid in Chicago and they are now saying that you would have let the murderers of Vincent Chen (Detroit — 1984) get off the hook because he was Chinese if you had been the judge on that case. I know HH is famous for its hatred of anyone who is not Chinese, but would you please skewer those assholes for this at least? Please. Those douchebags have had free rain for far too long.

  • Matt

    I read the post on you over at the HH Blog and I now understand why it is called “Hidden” Harmonies. The Harmonies are so well hidden that all I saw was a small cabal of insular haters with no harmony at all, other than within their own knitting group. Anyone who tried to reason with them gets shot down and banned. Reminds me of a country I know.

  • Charles Liu

    This whole thing is starting to get mean and personal and I suggest you cut off all comments.

  • Cunning Linguist

    Yes Charles, you are starting to look like a fool. Time to cut your losses, and head back to HH.
    Ask yourself, who initiated “mean and personal ” comments?

  • Ryan

    @Charles Liu,
    “Mean and personal.” You want mean and personal, read your comments and those of all your friends over at HH. You and your friends treat us (Dan included) like we aren’t even human, when all along my goal (and that of just about everyone else on here) has been to try to figure out how to fix the problem. We are not assessing blame. We are seeking solutions.

  • Cynic

    Let us not forget that over 50% of female Chinese students marry someone from the West during their time and never return to China. I have seen a business started up to facilitate these marriages by an ex-student. The issue of female students, as well as the complaints about the behavior and arrogance of mainland Chinese students, is well known in Singapore and voiced freely.

  • I Care

    Can we please get back to proposing solutions. Here are mine.
    1. Make sure to admit only those students from China who speak English well. Spend the time and money to test them.
    2. Prepare the students from China with what they will be facing. Put them through a one week or more preparation course before they start. Explain the honor code and enforce it. I go to a state university and though I have not seen all students from China cheat, the only students I have ever seen cheat during a test were from China.
    3. Require ALL students to attend a sensitivity training course regarding foreign students.
    4. Enforce the honor code. Treat all students equally when it comes to cheating.
    What else should we be doing?

  • Butterbean

    Did you see where Hidden Harmonies Blog was blaming Dan for the Chinese kid who got beat up in Chicago? Did you see how it turned out he was beaten up by a Chinese gang? I am curious to see how Hidden Harmonies will handle this. They should apologize, but they won’t. Maybe they will just blame Dan anyway and say that he created the self-loathing. That site is a kick.

  • Rami Z.

    I am surprised by the virulence of the attacks you are getting on this (on other blogs) but to me, that just shows how afraid some people are of balanced and honest discussion. Keep up the great work.

  • Tommy Banks

    This rising anger against the actions of mainland Chinese who go out is not just confined to the United States nor is it just confined to racist whites. As this Global Times article and its video show (, people in Hong Kong have this same anger. We (I say we because I am Chinese) can get mad at the people who express their anger (which I am) but if we do not also start trying to as Dan said, “bridge this fissure,” things are only going to get worse for everyone. We need to start trying to fix things without worrying so much about fault.

  • Neil

    Dan made it clear at the beginning of his post that the comments he had heard were only about students from mainland China, not Chinese people in general. Charging Dan with “racism” is nasty and disingenuous.
    Everyone of us who lives in China knows that cheating to get into American schools goes on every day. I know a young Chinese whose job it is to take TOEFL tests on behalf of Chinese applicants who want to go to American universities but lack the English skills to qualify. He only gets paid if he achieves an agreed-upon score on the test. This sort of thing is rampant here and everyone knows it.
    There are also countless number of people offering to write American university essays from start to finish for may. Many of these same people line up forged transcripts for their clients.
    The issue here is the culture of cheating and dishonesty that is so pervasive in modern China. Not all Chinese cheat or are dishonest and the proof of that is how often we see them complain about the deceit and fraud now commonplace in China. It is impossible to read China’s internet without seeing the anger about endemic corruption, lacing food with toxic chemicals to increase profits, purchasing substandard building materials and pocketing the savings that result, counterfeiting anything and everything. Applying to overseas universities with forged transcripts and faked test results is just a small part of this cheating epidemic in China. American Universities feed all this by looking the other way and accepting Chinese students solely because they pay the full tuition.

  • Karl

    I am new here so the first thing I did was read all the comments and I was surprised that nobody mentioned how this whole thing is based on class and wealth. What is happening is that the very wealthy Chinese are the ones who can pay for people to take the tests for them and to write the essays for them. Similarly, it is the very wealthy who merely need a U.S. college degree to bring back to daddy so daddy can tell his friends to hire his son (and sometimes daughter) because of the U.S. college degree. In the meantime, the poor students in China either have to test well enough to get into a good Chinese school or they are screwed because they cannot afford to pay to cheat or pay to go elsewhere. It is very clear to me that everyone of those who have come on here to defend the current system (and this is especially true of the Chinese over at Hidden Harmonies who got so anger about this article and its comments that they cannot even seem to see straight) are simply defending the current classist system because it is what enables them to stay on top and to help their friends who are also on top. U.S. universities are being told by the US Government to look the other way and to let in these rich but unprepared students and to ignore their cheating while here and let them pass through because then they will go back to China as elites and that will help cement our friendship. Those who see what is really going on (and this is on both sides) are causing a problem for this plan, which is why we must continue to speak up.

  • Tara

    Comments/articles like this are simply extension of the political climate. There were actually couple of quite eloquent rebuttals from Mainland Chinese students. They were either ignored or in one case called “insolent”. Lol, and you wonder why they don’t participate? Let’s face it, Chinese has become the new N#$%r; so much so that Chinese from ‘other’ parts – Hong Kong, Taiwan, American born are either de-emphasizing that they are Chinese by calling themselves Hong Konger, Taiwanese or American, or very quick to point out at every turn that they are NOT from the Mainland. Haven’t you all seen the brutal beating of a Chinese teen in Chicago? Even the ABC was calling him N#@%r! I do feel for them, am going to become a host family to a student from China soon.

  • Alexis

    @ Tara,
    That Chinese student was beaten up by mostly other Chinese students and he was beaten up by them as revenge for his having beaten them up earlier. That beating has nothing to do with anything other than your attempt to find racism where it does not exist.

  • Alexis

    I am surprised nobody has cited this Chronicle of Higher Education article which discusses many of the same things.

  • I hate to think that I used to be one of them. I have never cheated in exams, but I hardly ever spoke in some of the classes I took at Boston University – language barrier was one problem I had, but more importantly I think I lacked critical thinking and public speaking skills, which didn’t seem to be a problem while I was in China and Singapore. Luckily I did not back out. I challenged myself all throughout college and then in graduate school by taking advanced courses that required better writing and speaking skills. Now I am a freelance writer, editor, and translator working for three different companies in the film and publishing industries. I am VERY grateful to those who have been patient with me in the past.

  • Aley Ram

    This is a great article that raises the very sorts of issues we as a country need to be thinking about as we seek to retain our leading edge over the next 100 years. I am an administrator at a large public university and your article has become the starting point for what we need to do to make our integration of students from China work for us, both as a university and a community, and as a contributor to our nation’s future.

  • M

    There are a lot of things in it that i don’t agree with. In short, I agree that they usually keep a low profile, they chase after grades rather than exercising their thinking skills, and they sometimes try to bend the rules. However, I think they can still add to the schools’ prestige, raise the schools’ academic standards, add to the schools’ cosmopolitan-ness and diversity (and by that I mean diversity of perspectives), and make enormous financial contributions as international students.
    I’ll start with the most significant point in the article. The students quoted claim that Chinese international students cheat … and maybe they do sometimes, but I bet most of them are very reluctant to. I think most of them know that American teachers/professors don’t turn a blind eye to cheating. And considering they can be expelled for cheating, and sent back to China … I think most of them are very careful about it. Second, even if their English is bad when they give these presentations, they can still give good presentations based on the content of what they’re saying. If it factors into their grade, then of course they’ll make an earnest effort.
    And sure, they’re not contributing to the class discussions, but that doesn’t mean the discussions are a waste of their time, or of anyone else’s. They can benefit from the discussions just by listening. And they might chime in given the right triggers. During my semester in England I took a class in Australian politics (why not), and there were two Chinese international students who were dead silent throughout the entire semester, but I got them to talk on the final day of class when I initiated a discussion of Zheng He. And when they do talk, they have a perspective that no one else can give. And if your school claims to be cosmopolitan, then, well, you can’t forget China.
    Furthermore, I agree that Chinese international students aren’t making their opinions heard around campus. They won’t take you on about your evaluation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative. They have different priorities, and in some ways, their concerns are more important. Whereas white students are more interested in liberal arts because they want to learn to express themselves, Chinese students want a secure job afterwards. As a result they take classes in science and technology and medicine, all of which are extremely important. Obama said in Audacity of Hope that our country would benefit from having more engineers and fewer lawyers. Furthermore, because they go on to establish stable careers, they bring far more prestige to the school than a philosophy major who spends the rest of his life trying to use his degree.
    And sure, maybe they don’t donate money as alumni, but how many people do? Plus, they’re still paying all the fees of international students. Let’s remember, it’s a lot harder for international students to take out loans.

  • Dan

    Doesn’t the fact that HongKongers are also appalled by Mainlanders conclusively prove that this whole thing cannot be a race thing? Maybe it is a country thing or a culture thing, but it is not a race thing. See this article on Global Voices and watch the video and you will see what I mean.

  • Anon

    I am a graduate student in an international program that is made up of students from nearly 20 countries.
    I have experienced bad behavior by students from almost all countries but there is “something” different about the students from China.
    I generally agree with many of the comments above by the American student though I find their wording too strong. It is very difficult having to deal with these situations.
    My program has about 10 students from China and I have observed the following.
    It has been very hard to work with the students from China (not true of the students from Hong Kong!). They simply do not care about quality and so when we work with them on group work, the rest of us have to monitor their work closely and in the end we usually just jump in and do it for them. Most importantly, we have found that we cannot use their work because all they did was copy and paste without referencing their sources. I don’t know if this is because they think it is okay to cheat or if they just don’t know this is cheating. On the exams, they do blatently cheat all the time. I wish I this were not true and I could report otherwise, but it is true and the problem is that our school and our professors are so unprepared for this that they don’t know quite what to do. I get the sense they know this is happening and are either trying to decide what to do or just don’t care. Either way, the situation is every bit as bad as it is being painted and a group of us plan to create a major stink about this if something isn’t done soon.
    I agree with those who see underlying underlying cultural and institutional reasons for what is happening and I also agree with those who say that if we don’t discuss this AND come up with solutions for resolving it, hatred and distrust among my generation is only going to increase and cause us all future problems.

    • Lily

      For the plagiarism issue, I will say not all Chinese students but Koreans students also do that because in their countries the school do not focus on this issue as big of a deal as in America.
      For the quality of the work part, sorry about that but as an engineering student, I know I am not the only one, but I have to closely monitor my American teammates’ calculations while they are more in charge on the writing up part–since my English is for sure not as good as the natives.
      Still just because people see many Chinese students cheated in exams, it doesn’t mean if some Chinese got an A in exam, they must have been cheated.

  • MF

    I’m always mystified by teachers who complain that Chinese students don’t participate in class. I don’t have this problem very often because I don’t give students any choice — I call on them and make them participate. I make it clear that if they don’t contribute to the class they won’t get a good grade, and that questions and even wrong answers are fine with me. The only time I’ll be dissatisfied is if they can’t answer because they were playing with their cell phone or goofing off in some other way.
    I’ve talked to other teachers about this, and some have said they think calling on students is aggressive, or upsetting to students because they feel singled out. But come on, were you traumatized when a professor called on you in college? It was not always fun, and it could be embarrassing if you don’t know the answer, but as someone who was 18+ years old, you could handle it, right?
    Personally, I’ve enjoyed teaching Chinese students, and have found they can say some really insightful things in class discussions. Teachers just have to make sure they participate, and foster a non-punitive classroom atmosphere to encourage those who are not as academically strong.

    • sahil popli

      The point here is unless you make it part of the grade you cannot involve them in discussion. I feel this is sad.

  • Maxwell

    I see the heat you are getting elsewhere on this and I don’t understand it. All you have done is written about a problem and asked for a discussion on it. It really troubles me how many people prefer silencing other people than engaging with them. It is this silencing that scares me.

    • Jeffk

      I agree that’ it’s not a good situation. But as a student who has studied abroad in china, i can tell you that’s it’s the same way for the most part the other way around. “foreigners” have their own little cliques and rarely spend any time with Chinese people.

  • Jessica

    Having taught in China and now in the United States, let me assure you that there is plenty of blame to go around. I am focusing on the blame because that is what will lead us to resolution.
    First the Chinese students (for the most part) themselves are ill-prepared for American schooling. They are taught to learn by rote and they are taught that the grades are all that matter. They are not taught not to cheat; if anything, they are taught to cheat. Blame China’s education system for this.
    Second, the American schools (for the most part) are not prepared for students like those described above and they do nothing really to prepare the Chinese students for the school or the other students for the Chinese students coming in. They bring these kids in based on fake numbers (I saw somewhere that something like 90% of all China students’ test scores and/or grades are fake) and then do nothing to help them. They are being let in with a wink because they pay high tuition and the schools need the money. Blame American taxpayers and the school for this.
    Third, the American students are intolerant of those who are different from them and the schools make no effort to change this. I am not aware of a single school that makes a conscious effort to encourage mixing. Schools do look away from the cheating and that as I see it is the biggest cause of the tension (is hatred too strong a word?) American students feel towards those from China.
    Sorry if I am throwing so much out there at once but there are some big underlying problems that we are going to have to start talking about and remedying if we want things to get better. Not even sure how we should start but would love to get feedback from others as to whether they agree with my analysis. I do care.

  • Ryan (different Ryan)

    Good to see people focusing more on remedies and less on blame. I agree that if we don’t get this under control it could portend ill will in US-China relations.

  • Scapegoat

    My 2 cents,
    1. Who do you blame? The cheater or the enabler? The admission office should do their due diligence when accepting foreign students. Give them an oral interview via web conference. If they do their job, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Better yet, if the US government isn’t so short sighted and keep cutting education funding, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
    2. Its one thing to dislike someone because they’re a cheater, its another because they don’t speak your native tongue perfectly. Almost all the other aforementioned countries either have English as primary or secondary language.
    3. @Jessica, to insinuate Chinese education system encourages cheating is outright fails and defamatory.
    4. What’s wrong with getting good grades? What’s going to matter more during your first job interview? The fact that you participated in three school clubs or 4.0 GPA? Who is more likely to be successful later in their career and will be able to repay their alma mater? The one with 4.0 GPA or the one that participated in all the school activities?
    5. If you want them to participate, just make class participation part of the grade. If it’s not, you can’t blame people for not wanting to speak out. I find it funny when “they” stopped participating, class discussion stopped. Do they make up 99% of the class? What happened to the other “people” in the class? Don’t they participate?
    6. There’s a few rotten apples no matter where you look. To label an entire ethnicity as unintelligent cheaters is rather narrow-minded. I can assure you there are plenty of intelligent/non-cheating students from China, just take a stroll through your nearest ivy league school.

  • Help Wanted

    I join with those wanting you to come back and put some order into our chaos. Are you planning to do so?

  • vivi

    I am a Chinese exchange student in USA. I want to say that sometimes I choose not to go some events simply because I couldn’t afford it. Some of them held by school cost $30 or more and it’s my whole week expense of food. I do want to join them,indeed.

  • LBA

    Great discussion. I read every comment. This is an important issue and I am glad you were willing to bring it to our attention.

  • Derick

    I’ve heard that the problems we see in the U.S. universities are because we are getting mostly just the rich Chinese students who did poorly on China’s university entrance exam. Is this true?

    • Lee

      Yes and No. I am from China but I guess you shouldn’t just only listening to me. Well anyway….
      First, the Chinese university entrance exam happens once a year and if you screwed, you can either go a to horrible college or you have to do another year of high school. Second, even you are able to get into a decent Chinese university, under Chinese education, it could totally be a waste of 4 years in most case. So if it is affordable, why not study aboard?
      Not all of us are “rich Chinese students”. Yeah you see those Chinese students driving a BMW or even Aston Martin, but think about the ratio, that is 1 out of thousands. Plus many of us think it is such a shame for those who think they look good just by driving a good car, but it is a free country right?
      In fact many Chinese students work hard on school work, but mixing with the community is not as easy as something you can just work hard to achieve.
      If you are a college student and you have Chinese students or Korean or etc, try to make friends with them, if it doesn’t work out, still don’t think all are the same. I mean, we are all just ordinary people, and you can never say all Chinese are nice/bad or all Americans are nice/bad. Right?

  • Carl

    For one, most don’t want to speak because they don’t want to reveal their level of English, a lot of them know their English is nowhere up to the standard most other foreign students have so they feel ashamed because of it (afraid of loosing face) Of course this isn’t true for all of them but for the vast majority it is.
    However Many of them are more than capable of reading and writing on a college level, this isn’t obvious to their American classmates because they have no experience with the Chinese education system of teach reading/writing and forget completely about speaking. Most are coming from a school system that was absolutely horrific to them requiring them to simply pass tests to survive, so there is no wonder in my mind why some of them cheat and why most of them don’t want to attend after school functions.
    Some of these issues are cultural and can be addressed by giving advanced ESL classes (making them mandatory for graduation) And some of them will continue to be a sore in everyone’s side because most of them grew up in China where there was absolutely no ethnic diversity (sure, 50 or so minorities, very very small minorities that are not seen on the day to day) Which is to say, they are not used to or comfortable mingling with others outside their culture and ethnicity which unfortunately also fostered things like bigotry, prejudices, stereotypes and racism, things aren’t likely to let go of easily.
    It’s on American students to go more than a little out of their way to interact with them for to change the mindset of Chinese, to teach them that people are simply people, people aren’t just “foreign” or Chinese.

    • sahil popli

      I agree some have an issue with language, but I have had bitter experiences with Chinese graduate students over last 3 years, most of whom were good to excellent English speakers.
      Every discussion at work they have is in Mandarin ONLY. Since they are large in number they get away with it. In my university lab 6 of 8 are Chinese. Myself and one other American guy feel left out and I think it is normal to.
      Its a ” we dont care what you think” attitude, because we are large in number and dont need non chinese people at all.

  • ryan

    Did you see where the New York Times just did a story on Chinese students at the University of Washington. Seems that school is rapidly becoming ground zero on this issue.
    Here’s the link:

  • Charles Liu

    Hundreds of fake degrees given to Chinese students.
    Who do you blame? The students or the school?

  • Camus Zhang

    Do you know why so many students went to America.?
    I ‘m telling you the truth: their parents don’t want to let their Childern stay in China in the future because there is no hope.
    I’m not joking.
    Huge part of them are “the second officer generation” .
    You know why…….Dude.

  • Hi Dan,
    Great post, honest issues. I actually worked for a real estate developer in East Lansing, MI to help build a small Chinatown there….so, maybe I can shed some light. Michigan State (My alma mater) boasts the largest Chinese student population in the U.S. (over 3,000 from mainland). Michigan as you know is a Rust belt state and, even though GM is doing well because of China, and even creating jobs back at home because it didn’t go under in part because of China, when we first started the project we tried to be hush hush because of what many Michiganders might say.
    What we found was, consistent with what I see in most of the comments, that there is indeed a huge gap between this mammoth number of Chinese and the local community. Many of the quotes you have in your article about perceptions about Chinese were true. The one I would hear most is “if you see an Audi or BMW riding through Grand River, its a Chinese student.” Honestly, that wasn’t far from the truth. But what the real estate developer smartly realized is that the car dealerships were the only ones really paying attention to these students. What if everybody did? What if we catered to these students and understood their value to our community? That isn’t limited to the students that can buy Audi’s and homes, though I don’t think that taking a stance that is economic development and profit driven is something that can be apologized for either.
    At any rate, we ended up taking leadership in the community to fil this gap. We organized business people all over the Lansing area to reach out – find internships for these students, support their organizations, host them for dinner, etc. etc. We even helped to start a Chinese radio show.
    Anyways, we never really did end up making a Chinatown…but our initiative lives on. The radio show is gone, but there is now a China Entrepreneurship Network (, and a group of students I worked with invested money in downtown East Lansing to make a Karaoke entertainment center. More and more businesses in the region now have Chinese interns, and their have been new hires in the university to bridge the gap between the students and the community.
    So…I guess the lesson is that I feel that it goes both ways. But much of the above takes time to change, and it takes a big leap by people in the community to be welcoming. In my experience, some but not all will meet you in the middle. And that is enough for positive change.

  • Seth

    I am a U.S. JD/MBA student studying in Beijing in a Chinese Masters program right now, and having seen both sides of this coin, I thought I’d add my two cents.  (Obviously I’m late in the game, but I just saw this post.) 
    First, I interacted with several Chinese students during my JD.MBA degree, and I made some really good friends doing so.  I typically found that the language barrier was the main hindrance to communication, and the fact that I speak some Chinese immediately brought the walls down. They were just as anxious to escape the Chinese clique to interact with Americans as I now am to escape the laowai crowd and make some true Chinese friends.  Being quiet and anti-social can be chalked up to language and cultural fears and insecurities.  Big surprise.
    Second, cheating is a way of life here, and the educational system, (as many have already noted), trains students to focus on rote memorization and test taking.  The Chinese know it, the foreigners know it, and it is a concern for most Chinese people; and its something they’d like to fix, but don’t quite know how.  Don’t blame the students for being a product of their environment.  They need to be taught how to assimilate and adjust, (and in many cases they need to be forced to adjust). 
    Finally, Americans in general tend to be ethnocentric and have little patience with those learning English.  The Chinese here have been so kind and patient as I’ve struggled through Chinese, and I doubt I would have received the same treatment in the states.  Many of the foreign students here at Tsinghua are a complete embarrassment, drinking, partying, and trying to get laid as frequently as possible.  In other words, US students dealing with foreigners have much less to complain about than their Chinese counterparts, yet they have much less patience. 
    I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of this problem, but I think a little perspective might help the discussion.

    • Forest12222tmd

      I’m a Chinese international student in the States, I’m from Beijing. Tsinghua University is just 20 minutes drive from my apartment in Beijing. I’m working on a group project that is about Chinese students in America and that’s how I found this post. Your kind words brought me to tears. I’m glad that you can see things differently. Situations in China is difficult and I myself am concerned but don’t know what to do. But anyways, hope you enjoy your stay in China 🙂

  • Alex

    A good book on the problems of university admissions is The Chosen: A hidden history of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Princeton and Yale. I’m British and went to university in the UK, but I find the issues raised in the above comments and the discussion of what really constitutes ‘merit’ in The Chosen is a pretty good indicator of what American students are like when you actually meet them, during, or recently after, university. Essentially, the American education system has put huge value on being extroverted and ‘contributing’ to university life to the point it is almost more important than academic ability. This results in a poorly educated but incredibly opinionated graduate pool. I very rarely hear graduates from American universities mention their courses but am often told about their sports teams and other varied but underwhelming ‘achievements’. If Chinese people are arriving, studying hard, and getting good grades…why is that a problem?! They do that in England too, but are then hired by great companies and praised for their determination and drive, not slandered for perceived character defects!!! American education needs to pull it’s socks up. A load of over confident under-qualified MBAs does not portend a promising future for American business.

  • Wblake1

    Cheating is an integral element of Chinese culture. Even academinc professionals in administration cheat on exams necessary to advance their careers. How do I know? Friends of mine, Chinese, have been paid by adminstrators to take exams in their places. They are known by a Chinese term which can be translated into English as “hired gun.” 

    These administrators hold people’s careers in their hands. When the word goes out that the fix is in, it involves exam proctors, credential verifiers, and anyone else who should be able to expose the sham. If they don’t cooperate, they are finished. If they complain, they may finds that the person they complain to is the one who instructed the offender to cheat on the exam.

    It’s not unlike the RC pedophile scandal. Few people’s hands are clean. If you complain to the Bishop about an offending priest and the Bishop himself did or does the same thing, what kind of support do you expect to find?

    The only solution to bogus Chinese students in American universities is for the schools themselves to retest all students prior to full acceptance. Admit the Chinese students provisionally, based on successful completion of exams administered by the school in America.

    Make it clear that students who fail must return to China or  take remedial courses prior to achieving  full and regular standing. The money issue can be resolved by requiring Chinese students to reach academic benchmarks and charging them for the remedial classes at a higher rate of tuition. Make it not pay to cheat. Chinese people understand that, regardless of their language skills.

  • Oscar

    You do realize Chinese hate Americans, and everybody else except their own. My MBA led me to believe that each of you could have produced a diatribe in less than 40 words.  

  • This is too familiar to me.
    When I was doing a joint summer school a few years back, I (as the Swiss kid that looked Chinese) had a completely Western mindset.
    As a result the classroom was dominated in number by local Chinese students.
    But, so to speak, there was a mad rush for the mic by kids from India, Germany, the US, and Switzerland.

    Peking is creating testing-and-swotting machines with little interactivity.
    The way I see it, personally, this is not cool.

  • This is too familiar to me.
    I’ve been at a joint summer school in media about a few summers back.
    I was the kid from Switzerland (with a Chinese face). By numbers we the non-PRC folks were in the minority. The rest were dominated by local Chinese students.
    But the interactivity… there was a mad debate that erupted from kids from India, South Africa, the US, Germany and Switzerland. The locals remained totally mute.

    Peking is creating testing-and-swotting machines.
    This is seriously not cool…

  • Bob Pendlebury

    Trained and taught as an English Language Teacher in the UK and have to say mainland Chinese were a complete nightmare!

    Bob, Hove UK  

  • Melody Shunzi

    Dan, it took me a while to read your articles and all the comments. I am a Chinese International Student in Canada. I went to an international high school in Toronto for a year and the second year I went to a Canadian university . I am still new to the university that I am in. I am afraid of speaking out my opinion in the lectures, cause I don’t think that my English is good enough to make everyone understood. However I know that I came here to learn and I must practice my English by speaking out. It took my a long time to adjust myself into another person. In China, I don’t need to think hard of the words when I want to speak, but in Canada I have to think through every single word before I can make a speech.

    Luckily, I have got a lot of help from the native speakers including my prof, my friends and my homestay. I will high respect of the western culture here. Those nice people helped my to get over “Culture Shock” and “Homesick”.

    I am not a wealthy student like other Chinese students. Sometimes I simply don’t want to go out for fun with my friends just because I want to save some money. Things got a lot better after I found a job at my university. I have never cheated on any test in the school over here.

    I was in Chinese system for 12 years from grade 1 to grade 12. I can say that I totally understant Chinese Education system. We have 72 students for each classroom in primary school. The primary school is from grade 1 to grade 6,  and each grade has 4 class rooms. Those students stay in their classrooms from 9am to 5pm(would be 8am to 8pm if you are in middle school or high school). Students don’t get enough space and enough spare time. They stay in their little classrooms in the daytime, and when they go back home they stay in their little bedroom to finish all kinds of homework till 1 am in the morning. Staturday and Sunday are no exception. They go to school both on Sartuday and Sunday. For 12 years, every student was just preparing everything for the University entrance Exam! They always say this test will decides everything for the rest of your life. Please do not think it is stupit. Please understand that China has 1.4 billion people. That not everyone knows what a toilet is or 70% of they never got a chance to see a toilet in their entire life just because they are poor. So, if the students want a way out of proverty, the only choice they have got is: good grades.

    Our minds have already been build in some strange ways. Now, as a student in western university, I couldn’t think of how hard it was my life was when I was in Chinese schools.
    I really apprieciate the chance of getting abroad to see how your life is and I really like the way here in the western world. I do get more freedom, I do can speak out for myself. I do can agree or disgree with your opinion.

    In conclusion, I do like your arguments in your texts, you have pointed out those weaknesses of Chinese study, which turn out to be me myself. I am really grateful to your criticise, cause only criticise make me grow and mature. However, as a Chinese or a foreigner, I do not agree with your opinion that the students from mainland China are the only ones who are making the indecent issues. I am a student from mainland China and I have friends also from mainland china who are trying really hard both working and studying. We are changing our old perspective of the world and we are improving. Please be my friend, please be tolerant, please be respectful, and please help. After helping those international Chinese students, I believe that you will make new friends and your life will be more colorful and meaningful.

    I would like to talk more about those thing, but now is getting to late, I need to go to bed.

    Thank you, hope you have a good day.


    • Melody,

      We have received more than 200 comments and I didn’t respond to any of them.  I wanted to remain neutral and have the discussion be between the readers.  But yours I just have to respond to because it really tugged at my heartstrings.

      First off, let me tell you right off the bat that I have never believed nor will ever believe that all Chinese students cheat on their tests in the United States.  In fact, I have absolutely no doubt that the majority do not.  I also never for a moment believed that only Chinese students cheat. I absolutely know that to be false. 

      And I also understand why some Chinese students are reluctant to speak out in class, particularly those who have just come to the United States and are uncertain of their English language skills. 

      And I certainly do not think that all of the Chinese students in the United States come from wealthy families.

      I am actually an incredibly strong believer in the benefits of immigration.  I call it our “secret sauce.”  The United States has thrived by taking the tough, innovative, ambitious, free thinkers that want to come here to learn and to thrive.  You sound like that sort of person.  I admire your courage to work so hard and to take a job while in school and to learn English and, most importantly, to critically look at both where you came from and where you are.  You sound like the exact kind of person my firm loves to hire — not kidding.  I am SURE you will go far in life and I am glad you commented.


    • Lian Havro

      Hi Melody,

      I’ve been following the Chinese students in American universities issues for a couple of years now, and your plead to the understanding of the cultural differences is the best and honest I’ve read so far. 

      Being a Chinese immigrant myself, I can appreciate a lot of differences you mentioned, and I agree that it takes both the Chinese students and the American universities to work together to improve the problems.  It’ll get better and it takes time.

      I’m building a blog for Chinese students in America, (it’s still in progress but I’ve very good tips to help them improve their language and culture gaps). Please let me know how I can help.

      My email is

  • Bob Pendlebury

    Trained and taught in the UK (Celta qualified) but had to give this up due to the completely unacceptable behaviour of the (so-called) Chinese students.

  • Inga

    Chinese students pay the foreign tuition rate but don’t participate in class discussions or socialize? It’s their loss, but how is this a problem, really, for the non-Chinese students? More class time and free snacks at the school functions for them. 

  • rafree

    This article is a year old and yet just finding it I am not sadly not surprised to see this. I host two Chinese students admitted to a local college in Canada. Both were accepted from private “elite” Chinese high schools with high marks. Both are nice people and I haven’t necessarily had any issues with them in our home other than they tend to only hang out with other Chinese students thus missing out a lot on the experience of studying abroad. They are very reluctant to eat other foods, speak English in our home etc. and I noticed an alarming lack of understanding of the profs instructions on assignments as time went on. I was helping a TON with homework. Then it came out. One of the students confessed to me that the private school they went to FAKED their marks for them. The families are well connected. I asked how many of the other Chinese students at the college did the same and I was told “at least half” This is why they were struggling so much! I explained that doing such could get them kicked out of school here. To which the student replied “How will they know!?! If they call the school the staff will tell them the marks are high.” This is rampant and judging from the quality of the work I saw turned in the schools are passing them when they when they would never pass a Canadian student turning in such work. This isn’t personal. I am just alarmed that our schools have to know this is going on yet no one seems to be doing anything. I felt duped too.

  • MsMissy

    Does anyone have any regarding English being the mandated language in US universities? I’m related to a chemistry Ph.D student in a US university and every other lab person is Chinese and Chinese is the only language spoken between the others in the lab~This is terribly isolating for the lone American~Is this usual and allowed?

  • sahil popli

    Language barrier problem is understandable. But I have found that Chinese students in US even with a good command of English do not engage in discussions.
    I work in a group with 80% Chinese (all mainlanders) and they often keep talking in Chinese even when surrounded by american or non chinese members of their group. I feel this is annoying and disrespectful.
    All their communication at work is purely Mandarin and this makes others feel secluded from discussion. By the way I have asked them to switch to English sometimes and they laugh it off and continue to speak in Mandarin like they dont even care.
    This willful refusal to change has nothing to do with language or cultural barriers and is sheer feeling of self-supremacy and of their language and people.

    Another interesting thing is that they say they dont socialize because they want to go back to China after finishing their education, but this is a pure white lie since all of them end up staying in US.
    Furthermore, even after graduating they choose to stay in places which are chinese dominant so they dont have to socialize with anyone outside their own people.
    US universities should carefully look into stopping the migrating chinese population.

  • KKDA


    From Iowa State Chinese TA.

  • Nishi Hundan

    Jesus Christ, I’ve never known an American student who didn’t complain about one group or another…

  • Jane H

    In my opinion, I think the behaviors displayed by the Chinese students in colleges have much to do with the cultural differences between the Americans and Chinese. I think it’s neither wrong nor right although as Americans we may see it as unappealing or maybe even rude.

  • Amandee

    Ok, I agree some of them are true – but their just generalizations as these stereotypes do not characterize a specific person. These generalizations arise because students from China are brought up in a different school system. You can’t expect the students to change in just one year’s time from the habits they have developed throughout their life under China’s school system. It’s different there than in America and it’s something we have to understand. Those who cheat and only work hard for grades will eventually change or drop out, because in order to really succeed they will have to think critically instead of aiming for a number. As a student from University of Washington, I have seen those who changed throughout their undergraduate/graduate – taking their passion for a discipline as a reason to continue working hard instead trying to aim for a grade to impress their parents.

    They need time. Instead of criticizing them, we as classmates, should help foster them and help them open their perspective to the many other possibilities that doesn’t include a letter grade despite how difficult it may seem in the beginning.

  • mike

    Not everyone out there act like that. I came here since my high school freshman year. I also challenged myself physically and academically. I joined 2 varsity teams and loads of clubs in the past 4 years of my naval military high school year. There was a time that I felt like I wasn’t belong here because of the culture differentiation and the language, but I work through it. If you think everybody from China act like a freaking robot, well, you are wrong. The so called “redneck” name should be the guys who think that way. I’m not here to argue about the problems, instead I am here to ask you guys a favor. Next time when you see a Chinese kid struggling through school, just go over there and simply show them the right way of doing it. They will get it eventually. Hate doesn’t change anything people. It never did. My best friends lives in cali and we chill all the time. This four year of military high school experience had changed my life. I did a lot of crazy adventures with my friends. I present the colors in Ray’s game (baseball) in front of thousands of people. I went to U.S latest ship “farragut” in honor of a four star general and spent two days on the ship went on a mini “quest” along with the crew and so on. There are so much more I enjoyed even shared blood and tears for it. I just hope that you can look at us in a way you treat your fellas. It really doesn’t freaking matter if you are black white or even freaking blue. Honestly I could give less shit about it. I care more about how you treat your friends. Think this question real quick, how many “true friends” do you think you have that will be there for you when you mess up. You call Chinese people chinks because they act different and don’t party with you guys. But think about it, we are all just human being, and what make us different is really not just simply based on the way we look. Something inside of you definitely made a differences. I mean,hell, we are all gonna end up six inch under the ground, so why don’t you just treat each other with respect. And again I am Chinese and I can assure you that I am damn proud of being one.

  • Newbie

    So whats the problem with Chinese not participating in class discussions? A cursory look on the web will show how western governments have “killed” education, dumbing it down!!. Thats not China’s fault, so don’t blame chinese! What chinese students are doing comes nowhere close to what western governments are doing!SO , LETS HAVE A CLOSER LOOK at these “DUMBED DOWN” FAILED EDUCATION models enforced by the WEST:

    And they did not “kill” education only !!! History tells a dark dark story!!! In early 1900s western school system had Eugenics, which branched out of evolution, as a subject-based on “SCIENCE”, they said!!! This overt racism called science was based on anthropological characteristics of the nordic “race” Millions who did not fit the picture were mowed down!! Millions were economically “removed” from their resources, and those millions were NOT the ones favoured by “Structural adjustments”. Neither did these millions receive the billions of dollars from the resources so rudely removed from them!!! SO, all public resources and funds are cast into the hands on multi billion dollar Corporations, bankrupting the NZ government, and then, WHATCH FOR THE HUGGE WHIP!! Here is a non-dumbed down educational lesson from down under, and you are free to debate this!!! Australia is just the Same- even more resources passed into corporate hands, AND, JUST THIS WEEK: austerity measures against Australians -UP GOES THE PENSIONABLECAGE, SLAVE TILL YOU DIE!!!

    Closer to our time, what did evolutionary education do? Bringing to its knees of the NZ economy in 1986-87 was a disaster of epic proportions, abruptly disrupting peoples lives, forcing them out of their farms, taking a toll on their health, their possessions, unemployment shot through the roof!! and it all started in WESTERN EDUCATION SYSTEM!! These still continue right up to today, with successive labour and national governments ripping the last bit of what New Zealanders have and passing it on to Corporations! At the same time, New Zealand citizens have stringent AUSTERITY MEASURES ENFORCED against them. Argentina was dumped in total chaos, mayhem, disaster!! The IMF said of Argentina “ITS GOOD FOR COUNTRIES TO DIE FROM TIME TO TIME” -THE IMF WAS VERY BUSY IN ARGENTINA!! The UN even admits “IF THE WHOLE WORLD GOES TO SLEEP FOR 30 YEARS, AFRICA WOULD NEVER HAVE WOKEN UP”. Evolution is still today taught as fact in Western education systems, TODAY, despite failure after failure!! People were displayed in Zoo’s to prove evolution-OTA BENGA was a prime example, and he was brought to New York by a Missionary!!!, Today, yes, today, the sordid story of education still continues, and MISSIONARIES are also still involved!!!

    Education…in a dumbed down state, in western educational institutions, not “eugenics” branching out of “Evolution” as a “Science” any longer. Just plain old “Evolution”, still cast of as a science!!!

    And, as history shows us what happens when “evolution” is taught in western schools as a “Science”, structural adjustments still follow, and the Western and European UN arms in the form of IMF, WHO, etc.still cause mayhem, chaos, disaster, poverty, removal of resources by “force”. This time round, they received a HELPING HAND FROM TWO RELIGIONS: SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS joining hands withTRANSHUMANISM! Maybe the Adventist Church can tell WHICH RESOURCES AND HOW MUCH OF PUBLIC FUNDS THE UN is PASSING ON INTO THE ADVENTIST VAULT!!


  • MNRC

    quote: “I want to be very careful to note that these comments are about students from China, not about students of Chinese ethnicity”

    It might be even clearer if you said “…these comments are about students from China, not about American students of Chinese ancestry.”

    quote: “…what’s so interesting is how often the complaining students were careful to note that they had no issues with Chinese students from Hong Kong or Taiwan or Singapore or Malaysia or the Philippines or the United States, ‘who are not this way at all.'”

    I’m not sure how the student who said “I cannot even stand having to listen to them give presentations. Their English is terrible and they don’t even try” could also believe that this statement doesn’t apply to Chinese students from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Nobody speaks English as a native language there either.

    I think a lot of these comments stem from racism. Complaining about someone’s accent is about as classically racist as you can get.

  • parke muth

    Thank you for posting this piece. Given all the comments, you have raised an issue that is of significance to many. I have been advising students from China for nearly 20 years. I have talked with thousands in China and the US. If I had to summarize what my experience has been tit is pretty simple: the students I know well are among the most innovative, creative and involved students I have ever met. I was in charge of selecting students for honors programs at a top 205 university and have been on selection committees for several of the US’s most prestigious merit scholarships, so if this sounds like hyperbole I encourage anyone who has what I think would be healthy skepticism to visit my blog (those in China cannot access it unless they have a VPN). I have posted interviews with some of the stars who have come to the US for their education. Each of them has done remarkable things in and out of class. I do need to qualify what I have written however. The students I interview are a very select group. Some are at places like Harvard, Yale, Williams and Stanford. Many have attended great State universities. Some have graduated and are working for the best companies in the US. But these are the stars, the ones at the end of the bell curve. I have also heard that at schools that admit students from China based largely on numbers both academic and the ability to pay, and end up with hundreds or thousands that they end up having a community that sticks largely to itself. Schools in the US are cash strapped and getting many full payers seems to be more important than spending money, time and resources to match the students with the schools. Schools that use interviews either school based or through a company like IntialView or Vericant can find out pretty quickly if a student can hold their own in conversation or can stand out among any student from anyplace. Here is a link to one of the students. Her TOEFL was not that great but she reached out in ways to her university that showed she could speak and talk well; in addition, she demonstrated she loved to learn and would get involved. Once in the US, she joined many groups and contributed to the whole university community. She is now at JP Morgan. She would get an A+ on the airport test.

  • NT

    As educators it is our job to facilitate the integration of Chinese (and
    all international) students on our campus, by helping them navigate
    local scholastic and cultural norms, but also to by teaching empathy and
    cultural awareness among our domestic students. Too often domestic
    students tune out as soon as they hear a foreign accent. As a result,
    they severely limit their professional competence and ability to engage
    people, who if given the chance, have a lot of insight and unique
    perspectives to share. The paraphrased comments in the article range
    from gross generalizations to bigotry (I struggle to understand how truly “sophisticated, intelligent and well-traveled” students could make such reductive comments), and while I have heard these
    types of comments, a good instructor/facilitator/educator will challenge rather than
    reinforce such uninformed criticism. This can be done by exploring
    differences in educational styles and culture, being explicit about
    classroom expectations, including defining and modeling what
    “participation” and “constructive dialogue” should look like, providing a
    range of opportunities to engage (written, oral, in & out of class,
    group work) and measure student success.In other words solid pedagogy that will foster a positive
    learning environment for all students. Academic engagement is hard period, consider doing it in another language. How many of our American students have enough fluency in Chinese, or even Spanish or French to attend classes taught in the local language? The vast majority of American study abroad students choose to study in England or Australia so they don’t have to deal with the language barrier, or they attend classes specifically tailored for them and are commonly taught in English. Let’s teach our domestic students how to be good ambassadors, how to encourage and welcome international students and help them find entry points so that they can break outside of their comfort zones. We hope for the same when we send our domestic students abroad.

  • Eugena Lieu

    The English Language is set in a Plain Language format. Basically, anyone who joins this union, or The Plain Language Union, and its Organization defines words as The English would. Till now, The English would not let us have our rights to opt out of The Plain Language Organization. They still don’t see why there should be a difference between The East, and West. They only wanted us to agree, and be as civilized as they are. They wanted us to be how they see us. PLAIN. Because Plain Words are anything but Plain.

  • Jared

    I am an engineering faculty member and several of the Chinese students in engineering have contributed to the social activities in engineering. I even talk to and play “Starcraft 2” with one of the graduates who is excellent in speaking English. I would not say that the faculty or students at my university hold these biased opinions (fortunately).

  • TheRealSocialmedic

    First of all, consider that the population of China is 1.6 or 7 billion and rising until the end of this century. So most of the world’s resources are going to go to supporting the Chinese population, on a subsistence level. And the USA population was only 150 million until you started emigrating here in droves. Meanwhile, the Asian population is rising in most cities, even those as small as St. Louis and as important as Boston, higher even than the rate of Mexicans, the border immediately south. We are mad because our 35 year old conservative government is tryng to rob us while importing cheap laborers and the children of the rising billionaire classes from Asia. The Brazilians are mad because the Chinese took over their shoe industry, inside of their OWN country. So if you want to travel maybe you should not be going around bragging at your college store about how everything is “cheaper” in China. Yea, they are more expensive here because the people who own businesses pay taxes to build the hospitals, roads, and schools you don’t have. And believe it or not, everyone you complain about, and subsequently destroyed, because NOBODY is allowed to complain about what a Chinese does in America – is not a racist, but just may have a valid point about the difference in culture … and consider the fact that most of America does not want to become an overpopulated hell-hole, like China.

  • So many, articles: upon interest of “Sino-education exchange, regarding EU” many, students failed to adjust to “French. Colleges organizations yes, foreign enrollment is large plenty of cheating media continuous rationalization. Sino students, eager adapt, there to new college environments disagree, top engineering colleges and medical colleges Italy,BENELUX and France those accepted many failed due cheating. Odd, they pass the entrance examinations and foreign language: it’s pressure to obtain foreign degree? Inspire to be proficient in “France taking (IETTS) many fail the (TELC) reason not familiar linguistics of “EU” yes, many students arrogant isolate themselves. Baccaluaret technologique whom highest scores eastern Europeans,African nationals excluding Maghreb regions few Asian nations. Why France decide open franchises of “French language schools” to increase interest to
    “Francophile colleges” false believe you pay tuition assured gaining careers aboard and lower rate pursue graduate work inaccurate France you pay higher not national. Lottery whom gets accepted not as “American” colleges wait listing them accept committee decides anyhow. Sino students react differently, assumption there entitled to achieve excellent isn’t the logic of majority of students theories expectations differ.

    Causing anxiety to enroll abroad, criticism of students eventually, “Chinese” universities shall obtain global preference shall be as “Japan” only tier private never allow others. Public education new to “China” finding out when enroll colleges France” they isolate themselves yes behavior eccentric erratic behavior as “Americans” feeling there superior knowledge! Problem, to many of Chinese students, read information expect exact perception feel to make friends foreign studies. Sino” cash investment going encircle world commodities…create enclaves of influence question why China” reliant upon. Foreign academics, oppose “Japan” efficient society as France” true many students feel they be prefect retain preference of success. Cultural influence is different Merci.

  • Yuxin Kang

    I’m an international student from China, I will have to say that those are true BUT, not all the Chinese students have done those such things like cheating or never communicate with people who is not from China, or never tried. No, it’s not like that! That’s actually makes me so sad. People will never know how hard to tried to have a chat with Americans…… People will never know how hard we tried to pass the TOEFL and SAT!!! And can Americans write an essay or talk with Chinese like native speakers stay in China for only few years?

  • Blessing Choa

    Has the situation improved since you wrote this?