By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
Stockholm, Jan. 23 (ChinaEuropeDialogue,CED) — Since this website is called China Europe Dialogue, I think it is necessary to write something about Chinese students studying abroad. I read recently in Swedish newspaper DN on January 13, Friday —Kinas hemliga avtal med studenter i Sverige-kräver lojalitet med regimen. In English, China’s secret contract with students in Sweden– requiring loyalty with the regime.
My first impression of this article is that the reporter really not familiar with China and makes this a big news. I like to say that this is not a secret. If it is, it is also an open secret.
I have talked with a few students who either got a master degree or a Phd. But they paid for themselves to study in Sweden. They did not enjoy the government scholarship. So they were not restricted to the contract of requiring the student go back to China after studying.
Mr. Luan said it was understandable to require such student to sign a contract to promise to go back to China because the student spent the government’s money.
I myself was a visiting scholar to Canterbury University in 2003-2004 for a year. Before I left for New Zealand, I signed the contract and paid 40 thousand as deposit. When I went back to China in April 2004, I got my money back. During my stay in New Zealand, it was the education department of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand paid me allowance or salary for my accomodation and daily spending for study. Journalist Department of Canterbury University gave me an office room for my study.
I was grateful for my professor Jim Tally who was head of department of Journalism at that time. It changed to Journalism and Political Science later.
I did a comparison study between China Radio and Radio New Zealand to see what is the use of short wave radio, is it still useful? I read a lot of history about radio broadcasting and it was very interesting with political propaganda from both sides of the cold war, mainly the US and USSR.
I came back as I promised and I got my money back. This was the rule for those who went abroad to study either as a visiting scholar or as a student to get a master or PhD degrees. To get a degree usually needs to spend more money.
It depends on your luck or how much CSC is willing to pay for you.
Why should you sign a contract? To be frank, there has always been people who went abroad and then stayed there to live and work in that country without going back to China. If this happened, China will lose a lot of money. It is also a loss of talented people.
This is a way for China to keep the talented people. Of course, if you really wanted to go away and do not care about the fine, then you can still go away. But usually people do not have too much money, by signing the contract, they would go back to China.
The most serious punishment is to dismiss you from your job. It is just a kind of humiliation because since he or she didn’t come back, it means he or she really didn’t care. Otherwise, he or she should come back first.
A lot of people come back and got the money back and when time is ripe, he or she would leave anyway.
It is moral and dutiful to sign the contract and execute the contract.
Some students might violate the contract. In the 1980s and 1990s, western countries were attractive and people would like to stay with all means. But after 2000 when China opened up wider, a lot of students went back to China too because they felt China’s life was not bad at all. It is even more interesting than staying abroad. Food is good, the air is getting better.
But there are also some people no matter what they still like to stay in the west for example in Sweden because Sweden is beautiful, clean, environmentally friendly and the air is fresh. Many Beijingers like to stay here just because Beijing’s air was not good many years ago. But now the Beijing air is also getting better and better. A lot of blue sky days made me think it is the same as in Sweden.
What I like to say is that China’s Students Council should sign a contract with students. There is no problem for them to ask the student to pay back the money if he or she does not come back after studying. He or she should get punished financially.
It is not a secret. If he or she didn’t like to come back, they he or she should not come with government support. They can search their own way to study abroad.
But the more I think of it, the more I think maybe Swedish side thinks that Chinese side paid too lower salary for the PhD students. If China could pay more money, maybe the situation can be better.