China is using government scholarships to effectively turn students around the world into agents of the Chinese Communist Party, with loved ones back home facing consequences if they show any disloyalty.
Contracts signed by tens of thousands of Chinese scholarship recipients instruct them to “protect the honor of the motherland,” hone their “ability to follow orders,” and obey Chinese laws even while abroad, Radio Free Asia reported.
If any student “behaves extremely badly,” quits school, or moves to another country, China would force their designated “guarantors” back home to pay back a portion of their scholarship, according to the contracts.
“The Western media have reported many cases of Chinese students and scholars stealing high-tech military technologies, and besieging protesters who supported Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests,” commentator Wang Longmeng told RFA. “A lot of people who have been awarded Chinese government scholarships to study abroad have basically been recruited by the state, and these agreements are the best proof of that.”
China aimed to send 27,000 students overseas with state scholarships in 2021, according to a document reviewed by RFA. The document stated their scholarships depended entirely on loyalty to the CCP and included a pledge to “come back and serve their country” after graduation.
“If you take public money in China, you are one of them, and you are theirs, the party’s,” Sweden-based writer Wan Zhi told RFA, adding, “This has always been the Communist Party’s trick.”
RFA revealed the extent of the practice after the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported earlier this month about 30 Chinese doctoral students arriving in the country, having signed pledges to serve China’s interests while staying in Sweden.
Since then, Sweden’s Uppsala and Lund universities have ended their relationship with the China Scholarship Council, the main organization China awards scholarships through. The Royal Institute of Technology, the country’s largest technical university, is “in discussions” with the council, RFA reported.