Beijing is using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to cancel entrance exams to make it easier for young people to study there, Chinese education specialist Shi Dajun explained. He issued the warning after three universities, Peking University (Beida) – where he himself studied – Renmin University, and Shanghai Jiaotong University confirmed they were scrapping the exam requirements for foreign students.
Officially, the decision stems from the coronavirus pandemic – but Shi suggested another motivation.
He told Radio Free Asia: “It is not just Tsinghua or Beida; many other schools make exceptions for foreign students, which is in fact a part of China’s overseas propaganda policy.”
Beijing already used its Confucius Institute, public educational organisation under the auspices of the country’s Ministry of Education with the stated aim of promoting Chinese language and culture, to spread propaganda, Shi claimed.
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He added: “Now that the Confucius Institutes are running into obstacles, we are seeing them take a new direction.
“Chinese universities regardless of whether they are in the arts or the sciences are moving more and more in the direction of functioning as propaganda units.
“The brains of the Chinese people have pretty much already been washed away.
Now they are keen to brainwash young people from overseas, and imbue them with an experience of China, its culture, and the great achievements of the Communist Party
“Now they are keen to brainwash young people from overseas, and imbue them with an experience of China, its culture, and the great achievements of the Communist Party.”
The cancellations will make it much easier for international students to win places at top Chinese universities.
A retired professor at Lanzhou University who gave only his surname Cai told Radio Free Asia: “We know that the government uses education as a form of soft power.
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“It’s an opportunity for citizens of other countries who admire Chinese culture to come into contact with it.
“They want it to take root in the hearts and minds of young people in Western and African nations.
“This is all about China moving out into the wider world; they are laying the groundwork by training up some human resources.”
“They are training up the next generation of pro-China people, and developing friendly ties with these countries.
“This is a very good foundation, and the government has spared no expense.”
A statement issued on Beida’s website said: “To protect the health of the majority of candidates during the coronavirus pandemic the University has taken the decision to cancel the written examinations for international students applying to being in an undergraduate program in 2020.”
COVID-19 was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
There are currently 84,011 confirmed cases in the country, with 4,637 deaths – although a cluster of five cases in Wuhan yesterday – has raised concerns about a second wave of the illness.
A spokesman for China’s health authority said today the reappearance of coronavirus cases in recent days showed counter-epidemic measures could not be relaxed yet.
While prevention and control efforts have normalised, that does not mean measures can be eased, Mi Feng, spokesman at the National Health Commission, said at a media briefing.
Wuhan also plans to conduct city-wide nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days, according to a leaked internal document.
Shares on the Shanghai stock exchange ended lower today as a result of second wave fears, and as a result of a sharp drop in China’s factory prices underscored the economic impact of the pandemic.
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