Before You Do China Studies

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryBecause of how important China has become in the world, and how it has changed the whole equation of how the world views that country, China studies has become more popular and important than ever. More and more American students are interested in learning about this country, its culture and history, its language, and the economic dynamics that have made China the second great superpower. No matter what the relations between the United States and China are now (which are dismal to put it mildly), this has not entirely stopped prospective students from wanting to study this country. All good and nice, but now there is a problem students should be aware of.

More and more U.S. colleges and universities have been adopting policies whereby students submit anonymous papers and research studies with coded encryption so the professors know which student is submitting what paper. Why is this happening in the United States in regards to China? As crazy as this sounds, China passed a new security law that not only impacts Hong Kong but the rest of the world. The new security law states that anyone who violates the new law, whether they are in China, Hong Kong, or even outside of China can be prosecuted and imprisoned. This means that if a student outside of China submits a term paper about a certain subject in Chinese history, a certain topic about the Chinese government that the Chinese government finds “unacceptable,” then that student can face imprisonment and even execution in China and Hong Kong because they violated China’s national security law.

It does not matter whether this all happened inside or outside of China, and was part of academic study, and was in accordance with the laws of the country these students were in. It does not matter whether the students that did this are foreign nationals or Chinese nationals, and foreign nationals have never even visited China, the Chinese government will imprison, and could possibly execute such students for saying anything deemed by the Chinese government against the national security law. The moment a student affixes their name to a research paper critical of anything the Chinese government does, no matter where they are in the world, they will be subject to arrest and imprisonment by the Chinese government if they go to China or Hong Kong. Since all papers are now online with American colleges and universities, the Chinese government might be able to find out. Also, the Chinese government has been known to send spies to American academic institutions to find out who is “pro-China” and “anti-China.”

What is crazy is that China’s new security law has become an extra-territorial act against any and all other nations. This affront against the rest of the world is just the latest by the Chinese government to enforce its will against the rest of the world, and why the Chinese Communist Party has become that much more of an evil institution. Yes, by putting my name on this article against the Chinese government, I have definitely violated China’s national security law and can now be imprisoned and shot if I go to China or Hong Kong. You can be sure I will not. The truly sad thing is that China studies has become a life and death issue even impacting academia all around the world. The Chinese government simply wants nothing critical of itself. With what happened with the corona virus pandemic and Chinese aggression in parts of Asia, there is really no way to stop anything critical of China at this point. As for those students truly interested in studying anything to do with China, my recommendation is if you wish to truly study Chinese history and culture, the Chinese language, and even Chinese cooking, do it at a Chinese college or university in Taiwan where you will be safe.

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