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UM opposes Trump's restrictions on Chinese students

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan is taking a strong stance in opposition to the Trump administration's "arbitrary restrictions" on students from China.

President Donald Trump announced the restrictions in a May 29 proclamation that would suspend the entry of Chinese graduate students and post-doctoral researchers with ties to universities affiliated with the military in China. It reasoned that some Chinese authorities use these students "to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property."  

University officials sent a letter last week to the UM community after hearing concerns about the restrictions.  

President Mark Schlissel updates students about the COVID-19 situation at UM in an emailed video.

"While we take seriously threats to national security and have worked to implement practices aimed at addressing foreign government interference, we oppose arbitrary restrictions on Chinese students who have been and continue to be valuable members of the U-M community," said the letter, signed by President Mark Schlissel, interim Provost Susan Collins, vice president for research Rebecca Cunningham and Rackham Graduate School Dean Mike Solomon.

"These restrictions also limit our ability to attract top talent that contributes to our nation’s health, security and economy. We support our Chinese students, researchers and faculty and ardently believe restrictions should be limited to those who pose security risks based on credible intelligence and evidence."

China is the top country of origin for international students in the U.S. and UM hosts the most Chinese students in Michigan, according to thelatest reportof the Institute of International Education. There were 1,449 students from China enrolled at UM during winter 2020, according to a report from the university registrar.

"Students or researchers from the (People's Republic of Chine) studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the (People's Liberation Army) are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern," said Trump's proclamation. 

UM's letter said the restrictions need to be clarified and UM is partnering with the Association of American Universities to get more details from the U.S. State Department and the FBI.

"The University of Michigan welcomed its first Chinese students 128 years ago," the letter said. "Since that time, our Chinese students, post-doctoral scholars and faculty have enriched our institution through teaching, learning, research and impact on society. Our principles of international engagement and cross-cultural understanding have been a foundation of our strength and progress for generations and enhance our standing as a leading international community of scholars."

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com