“I’m nervous, worried, even saddened by the unnecessary conflict,” said Liu Yuanli, founding director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s China Initiative and now serves as dean of Peking Union Medical College’s School of Public Health in Beijing. “The restrictions on Chinese scholars and students are irrational and go against the very core value that makes U.S. a great nation.”
Liu is a participant in China’s controversial “Thousand Talents” recruitment program, which began in 2008 as a way for Beijing to encourage its brightest citizens abroad to help develop the economy back home. More recently, China has sought to play down the program as U.S. concerns about its activities grow.
The developments underscore how the trade conflict is fundamentally changing the relationship between to the world’s two largest economies, from one of greater reliance to increasing suspicion. President Donald Trump’s expanding curbs on Chinese goods and China’s move to set up a sweeping blacklist of “unreliable” foreign entities since their trade talks broke down have helped fuel new Wall Street warnings about a possible global recession.
Education has for decades been a strong point of cooperation between the nations, with a surge of Chinese students filling American university coffers while giving the country access to some of the world’s best research hubs. The U.S. hosted more than 360,000 students from China last year, according to a report by the Institute of International Education, more than any other country.