China’s leaders send their own kids overseas to be educated, but don’t want hoi polloi getting in on the act. The Wall Street Journal reports:
China is tightening the reins on popular programs that prepare students to study in the U.S. and elsewhere, in the latest sign that Beijing is worried about the spread of Western values in its education system.The new environment is evident at Beijing No. 4 High School in central Beijing. Like hundreds of Chinese schools, it has an international curriculum for students who want to earn degrees abroad after graduation.But officials recently urged Beijing No. 4 to relocate that program to the city’s suburbs and sever it from the public school, said Shi Guopeng, the program’s principal. The school agreed, and the program now plans to move next year and possibly raise tuition, two moves that may impede its ability to attract students, Mr. Shi said.“Some government officials don’t want to see so many students going abroad,” he added.
It will actually be hard for Beijing meaningfully to cut down the number of students who go abroad for their schooling, given how curious Chinese young people are about the wider world and how eager they are to see what goes on in other countries. Moreover, fluency in English remains a very valuable skill in Chinese life—and not just for talking to Americans. Chinese factory managers based in Europe and Africa will often use English to communicate with their staffs.But if Beijing does succeed in keeping many more students home, expect one big consequence in the United States: Many colleges and some boarding schools that now depend heavily on tuition from Chinese nationals to balance the books will be in trouble. If a bureaucrat flaps his wings in Beijing, a college could close in the United States.