Conditions ripe for international students to return to China

By Zou Shuo (China Daily) 13:57, February 21, 2023

After a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers are set to quickly rise to reach levels seen before the outbreak. 

China's rich culture, history, innovation and rapid growth and development in economic and technological terms will continue to attract international students, according to those already studying in the country.

The cuisine, rich scenery and friendliness of the Chinese people have all left good impressions on the students, who are happy to promote friendship and closeness between citizens of their home countries and Chinese people.

They said China's optimization of its COVID-19 epidemic control measures means more international students will come to the country to study.

A lack of understanding, knowledge and awareness often creates the biggest misunderstandings, bias or even conflict, and having international students from different countries in China is an opportunity to show the country to those at home from a genuine perspective and establish a stronger bridge between different cultures, they added.

Unofficial 'ambassadors'

The students are a link between China and their own countries, bringing different perspectives and acting as "ambassadors" for China at home, they said.

Hasan Mahady is a second-year undergraduate at Beijing Jiaotong University. The 23-year-old from Bangladesh said China is one of the safest countries in the world, noting that Beijing is one of the largest and busiest places in China, yet there is almost no crime in the city.

The cost of studying in China is relatively low, compared with places such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and European countries. Given the guarantee of quality education, international students who decide to study in China are less burdened financially, he said.

As the government invests to provide resources for universities and internationalize the education system, the country's universities are increasingly well-respected globally, while more schools in China are listed in the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings than ever before.

"Chinese is not the most straightforward language, but it is not impossible to learn. It is one of the most widely spoken languages on Earth, and it looks good on resumes and job applications. China has a lot of opportunities if we speak good Chinese," Mahady said.

Minh David Thao Chan is a second-year PhD candidate at Tsinghua University, focusing on information technology and telecommunications.

The 30-year-old from France said he thinks China has become a leader in technology and will attract intellectuals from across the globe, just as the United States did 30 years ago.

China offers many learning opportunities and methodologies, and has great economic development potential, he said.

The main reasons he came to China are the culture and language, a willingness to challenge himself, and the improved financial opportunities after graduation, he said.

Mexican national Jorge Filio, 25, is studying for a master's in Chinese Studies at Peking University's Yenching Academy.

He said that the optimization of the epidemic restrictions means China will definitely regain its position as an academic beacon for the best students from the developing world across many disciplines.

Filio came to China for the first time in 2017 for a summer program at Tsinghua University's School of Environment. It took less than a month for him to learn that China is the best environment to grow academically and professionally, he said.

"Therefore, I made up my mind to pursue postgraduate studies in Beijing. China is the most different environment that I can think of, and so it is the perfect way to challenge myself," he said.

Mexico is repositioning itself as a manufacturing hub in North America, encouraging near-shoring and the relocation of transnational companies. The move offers an opportunity to reassess Mexico's relationship with China and look for industries in which Chinese companies have a technological advantage, then push for their introduction to the Mexican market, he added.

Rapid development

Phearum Vannaseka is an undergraduate at Beijing Jiaotong University, majoring in financial management. The 21-year-old Cambodian native believes that more students from her country will come to China to study as the country optimizes its epidemic control measures.

China has rapidly developed its economy, technology and education system, she said. "As an international student studying in China, I have firsthand knowledge of the fact that Chinese universities don't just teach theories and principles; they also conduct experiments. As a result, the students quickly understand the lessons and their enthusiasm in class increases," she said.

She added that she came to China to study because it is a highly diverse and historic country.

"There are many things to discover and do in China, but the main attraction, in my opinion, is tied to the amazing architecture, delectable cuisine, martial arts and lengthy history of creation," she said. She added that Chinese people are genuinely helpful and courteous, and she was pleasantly surprised by how polite they are.

"They are really kind to foreigners like me, young and old alike. For instance, I frequently got lost on the street early on, but every time I asked, the local people responded in kind voices and with friendly smiles. I had a homey feeling overall," she said.

Isidore Chitosi, 23, from Malawi, is a postgraduate student in civil engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University. He decided to study the subject in China because in recent years, the country has made headlines across the globe for its "skyscraper boom", and the related buildings are famous for going beyond the boundaries of traditional engineering.

In addition, bilateral agreements between China and Malawi have involved China playing a huge role in the construction of some of his country's key infrastructure, such as the new parliament building in Lilongwe, the capital, and the Malawi University of Science and Technology, he said.

"The thing I find most impressive about Chinese people is their admirable work ethic — they always take an earnest approach to completing tasks," he said.

He added that international students can act as a bridge between the two countries. By gaining an understanding of both cultures, they can help identify the mutual interests and common goals that exist between countries.

Chen Shin Ni, 22, is a Malaysian student majoring in pharmaceutical sciences at Tsinghua University.

She thinks that many international students will study in China because the education system is good, the living environment is safe and the cost of living is acceptable.

International students can help strengthen the relationship between their home country and China by becoming "ambassadors" for their countries and sharing their culture and experiences with students from other countries, especially with those from China, she said.

Motogo Mangue Mariano Mba, 25, from Equatorial Guinea, is a senior in optoelectronic information science and engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University.

"Every time I am asked why I have come to China, my answer is 'Why not?' In recent years, I have grown, matured and fallen in love with the culture, the people and, most importantly, the convenience and safety of China," he said.

He thinks more students will come to China because no other country in human history has done what China is doing in terms of development and helping the whole world develop.

Language of choice

In addition, he thinks that Mandarin is becoming a language everyone should learn, just like China is a country everyone should visit.

"What has impressed me most is the kindness of the people and their ability to make you feel welcome," he said.

"Chinese people are clear, practical and realistic. They respect all cultures and they understand how important mutual respect is between people from different backgrounds."

As China has some of the world's largest information and communications technology markets, the country can provide him with the opportunity to build a lucrative career and the skills to develop further within this critical and growing area, he said.

"With all that being said, I know people will come to China because it is the future — there is no better place to be right now if you want to make history."

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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