Some Virginia State Colleges and Universities Host Chinese Government Student Control Organizations

by James C. Sherlock

Courtesy U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission

Virginia Tech’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association

is the largest international student society at Virginia Tech, with more than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars and their families. It is also one of the largest Chinese student and scholars organizations in the United States. [Go to link and click “translate” in URL window.]

Good to know.

More than 350,000 students from mainland China out of about 1 million total international students are enrolled in America’s colleges and universities in 2023.

The financial incentives for the schools are huge.

All of those students pay full-sticker out-of-state tuition as well as room, board and student fees – $58,750 annually for undergraduates.  So Tech realizes about $60 million for its full-time Chinese Hokies.  That does not include summer students, another big program.

In associated programs, Chinese universities provide Mandarin language instructors to American faculties and accept U.S. students.

But the institutions who accept Chinese Student and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) know they monitor and control Chinese students and spread the official dogma of the Chinese state to their campuses.

The Chinese don’t even try to make it a secret.

CSSAs have closed at UVa, VCU, James Madison and George Mason without apparent effect on their Chinese student inputs.

Yet Virginia Tech, William and Mary, and ODU continue to host them.

It makes no sense.

The U.S. – China Security Review Commission, an agency of the U.S. government, exposed the work of CSSAs in August of 2018.

they receive guidance from the CCP through Chinese embassies and consulates—governmental ties CSSAs frequently attempt to conceal—and are active in
carrying out overseas Chinese work consistent with Beijing’s United Front strategy.

Journalists and activists have also shown CSSAs to routinely coordinate with the Chinese government and to have been involved in the suppression of free speech and the harassment, intimidation, and surveillance of Chinese student activists.

One of the news articles to which that report referred was The New York Times 2017, On Campuses Far From China, Still Under Beijing’s Watchful Eye.”

Much like the Confucius Institutes run by the Ministry of Education, CSSAs were relatively more benign before Xi Jinping took total control in China in 2012.

Since then, they have become the threat to Chinese students, American universities and American society that Xi intends them to be.

An article in The Atlantic titled, “The Moral Hazard of Dealing With China,” led with the statement

Academic institutions must grapple with the question of when engagement becomes complicity.

That advice is forwarded for consideration to Virginia Tech, William and Mary and ODU.

What they are doing in hosting CSSAs is stupid, harmful and unnecessary, and they need to stop.

Updated Nov 14 to reflect actual tuition, room, board and fees costs for out-of-state students.