Report: China Intensifying Oversight of U.S. Student Groups

March 8, 2018

An investigation by Foreign Policy examines the links between the Chinese Embassy and consulates and campus chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, which have long hosted cultural and social events and provided support for Chinese students at U.S. universities. Foreign Policy reported that campus chapters of CSSA regularly accept funds from Chinese consulates and that many describe themselves as being under the embassy's "guidance" or "leadership." The article cites "numerous CSSA members, including two current chapter presidents," who "say that they are uncomfortable with what they felt was growing ideological pressure from the embassy and consulates."

The Foreign Policy investigation found that embassy and consulate officials are regularly in contact with CSSA presidents, with whom they share information related to safety and "the occasional political directive." Consulate officials have asked CSSA leaders to share articles spouting a Chinese Communist Party line and last fall encouraged CSSAs to hold events tied to the 19th Communist Party Congress. In addition, the Chinese government has worked through CSSAs to organize welcoming parties for visiting Chinese leaders and pay students -- in one case, $20 each -- for their participation. 

Foreign Policy also reported that a "few CSSAs explicitly vet their members along ideological lines, excluding those whose views do not align with Communist Party core interests." The Chinese embassy did not respond to Foreign Policy’s requests for comment.

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