U.S. students studying in China plummeted due to the epidemic, and the deterioration of U.S.-China relations made the outlook for the epidemic uncertain

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Data map – the number of American students studying in China in each academic year from 2000 to 2019 (Voice of America compiled according to public data)

China’s strict “clearing” epidemic prevention and control in the past few years has brought the number of American college students studying in China to the lowest point in more than 20 years. In the 2020-21 academic year, there are only 382, ​​which is a sharp drop from the number of American citizens studying in China two years ago. 97%. Some experts said that even after China opened its borders, with the intensification of geopolitical tensions and the sharp deterioration of US-China relations, it is still unclear whether American students will return to study in China.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday (March 19) that, according to the latest data available, the number of Americans studying in China in the 2020-21 academic year has plummeted by 97% from the 2018-2019 academic year, which is far below the peak ten years ago. Nearly 15,000 people during the period.

While China finally backed away from closing its borders for the past nearly three years in January, removing the biggest hurdle for foreign students traveling to China, rising other factors, including growing geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, mean It may take years to see the number of American students studying in China return to pre-epidemic levels, and it is uncertain whether they will return to previous levels.

Cameron Johnson, a management professor at New York University’s Shanghai International Campus, said it is not yet foreseeable that the number of American students returning to China will improve significantly in the future.

Johnson, who has worked in China since 1999, said that not only are concerns about the possible reimposition of border controls, but also the deepening distrust of China in the United States is also causing American students to avoid China. The result will be a growing lack of understanding of China.

The report said that since the 2010s, the number of American students studying in China has begun to decrease. Some experts blamed the start of a slowdown in China’s economic growth and the perceived tightening of China’s foreign exchanges.

After the outbreak of the new crown virus infection, American students basically stopped studying abroad, not only in China, but also in other countries.

The number of U.S. students studying abroad for the 2020-21 academic year fell 96%, according to the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education. In Japan, the number of American students plummeted to fewer than 130 in the 2020-21 school year from just 9,000 two years ago.

At the same time, during the epidemic, the number of Chinese students in the United States in the 2020-21 academic year was nearly 318,000, a drop of 14% from two years ago.

Some experts worry that the decline in people-to-people exchanges between the world’s two largest economies could further exacerbate geopolitical hostilities between the two countries.

The report quoted David Moser, a language professor at Capital Normal University in Beijing, as saying that as public perception of China in the United States deteriorates, more American universities will encounter difficulties in short-term study programs in China.

Professor Moser has helped the Washington-based academic program of CET (originally China Educational Tours) develop study abroad programs. As a provider of third-party study abroad programs, CET has suspended its most important Chinese programs from 2020, partly because China has been slow to issue short-term student visas for foreign students.

According to Agence France-Presse, as the relationship between Russia and China has become closer in recent years, especially after Moscow was widely sanctioned by Western countries after it invaded Ukraine, Russia has become more dependent on its economic and trade relations with China in its international isolation. Russia’s own economic and technological development It is also increasingly relying on China, which also arouses the enthusiasm of Russians to learn Chinese.

The report quoted a Russian university student who taught Chinese as saying that Russians began to learn Chinese because Beijing will become Russia’s main partner in the next few decades.

The report also quoted figures from a major online recruitment company saying that the demand for Chinese-speaking employees in Russia’s energy sector has tripled. A manager of the company said that nearly 11,000 job vacancies the company recruited last year required Chinese, a 44% increase from 2021. Meanwhile, Chinese-speaking jobs are doubling in sales, transportation and logistics as Chinese-made equipment and components proliferate

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