HomeAsian AmericansChinese Students Are Spies, President Donald Trump Reportedly Told U.S. Business Leaders

Chinese Students Are Spies, President Donald Trump Reportedly Told U.S. Business Leaders

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pose with Chinese President Xi Jingping and his wife, Mrs. Peng Liyuan in Mar-a-Lago, Florida back in 2017. Photo by D. Myles Cullen/The White House.

President Donald Trump hosted a surf-and-turf dinner party for top U.S. business leaders at his private golf club in New Jersey this Tuesday.

It was officially painted as “an opportunity for the president to hear how the economy is doing … and what their priorities and thoughts are for the year ahead.” Instead, Politico reported that President Trump unleashed a fiery rant against China, from trade policy to immigration.

According to one attendee, Trump announced that “almost every student that comes over to this country [from China] is a spy.”

A second account reported by CNN spread Trump’s animosity a bit wider, instead of solely aiming at China: “Trump expressed concern that some foreign students were acting as foreign agents, particularly from China, according to one of the attendees.”

The White House declined to comment.

Included among the two dozen or so CEOs in attendance were Indian American Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, Fiat Chrysler CEO Michael Manley, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Ernst & Young CEO Mark Weinberger and Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky.

PepsiCo CEO Nooyi was born in Madras, India. She moved to the U.S. in the 1970’s to pursue a business degree at Yale University and graduated in the class of 1980. She is now a university trustee.

Entrance to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. Photo courtesy of Ekem/Creative Commons License 4.0.

According to Insider Higher Ed, more than 350,000 Chinese students attend U.S. universities. They are the largest group of international students, and received about one in 10 of all doctorates in 2016.

“Generations of foreign policy leaders agree that international students and scholars are one of America’s greatest foreign policy assets,” Jill Welch, NAFSA’s deputy executive director for public policy, said in a statement about what the president reportedly said to the Institute of Higher Education.

“Chinese students contribute $12 billion to the U.S. economy, alongside countless other benefits, so even a modest reduction in Chinese enrollment would be devastating, and virtually every community in America would feel the impact if Chinese students decided not to study in the United States,” Welch said.

In addition, international student enrollment can keep tuition costs down for American students. At most universities, international applicants do not qualify for need-based aid, and where the admissions policy might be need-blind for U.S. applicants, often the same policy doesn’t apply for international students.

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