The ridiculous reasons for the US to repatriate three Chinese students

Wan Lixin
In randomly identifying a few students as having military ties on flimsy evidence, the US has shown its hubris.
Wan Lixin

September has come, and some Chinese parents and their children are talking about the military instruction training that some students will receive upon entering a new school.

The children, by and large, are excited, anticipating a few weeks of collective life, the shared dormitories, new friends, the great outdoors, and the relief from regular school routines.

It's fun in many ways. For instance, some children who are spoiled for choices and comforts at home will, for the first time, lectured on the importance of rigorous discipline. They need to make their own beds, and this is not easy.

It can be tough too. Depending on the temperature, in extreme cases, the outdoor drills could be formidable. A few trainees might even suffer indispositions after long exposure to heat.

One girl in my son's class was alarmed one morning. She told her parents later that she hadn't slept at all the previous night, because no sooner had her head touched the pillows than she was awoken again.

For some parents, it offers a short reprieve from the demanding task of child-rearing.

In sum, it's generally seen as a harmless, relaxing experience, but, depending on your plans for your children, it is wise to be careful with the training photos.

Recently, three Chinese international students were repatriated to China after being suspected of having ties to the military, because photos of them receiving military instruction training were found in their phones at the Houston Airport.

As every Chinese knows, such training has been required throughout China's education systems for a long time.

My son, who turns 18 next week, has already had the benefit of two such training sessions. If he goes to college next year, he would receive his third training. My wife has had two. I have had one.

No Chinese who know us – whether our relatives, classmates, or colleagues – would assume that we have any military connection for having received such training.

The training expects to build the students' perseverance in tackling difficulties and build stronger character, according to the outline published by China's Ministry of Education.

In randomly identifying a few students as having military ties on such flimsy evidence, the US has shown its hubris, suggesting they could afford to ignore that their arbitrary decision can seriously disrupt the students' lives.

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