US should give priority to Indian students in technology, encourage Chinese students to study humanities: Deputy Foreign Minister

US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell on Monday said the United States should encourage more Chinese students to study humanities rather than science amid security concerns. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Campbell highlighted the importance of diversifying international student enrolment amid strained US-China relations. The deputy secretary also advocated greater recruitment of Indian students amid India’s growing importance as a US security partner.

“I would like to see more Chinese students come to the US to study humanities and social sciences rather than particle physics,” Campbell said, according to news agency Reuters.

Despite heightened scrutiny over concerns of espionage and intellectual property theft, Chinese students historically constitute the largest foreign student group at US universities, set to number around 290,000 in the 2022/23 academic year, Reuters reports.

Campbell addressed the controversial ‘China Initiative’ launched during the Trump administration, aimed at combating espionage and intellectual property theft, which was ended by the Biden administration. According to the report, critics argued that it led to racial profiling of Asian Americans.

Acknowledging security concerns, Campbell noted the cautious approach of US universities to support Chinese students by restricting access to sensitive technologies. “I think it is possible to mitigate and limit certain types of access,” Campbell said, stressing the need for vigilance in tech programs across the US.

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Campbell calls for ‘large numbers’ of Indian students to study at US universities in technology

Calling for the recruitment of greater number of Indian students, the Deputy Secretary said, “I believe the biggest growth we need to see in the future is that larger numbers of Indian students will come to American universities to study in technology and other fields.”

Despite the tensions, Campbell underscored the importance of maintaining ties between the U.S. and China, blaming Beijing primarily for challenges in relations with the academic, business and nonprofit sectors. Concerns about personal safety have also discouraged foreign officials and philanthropists from staying in China for long periods of time.

In conclusion, Campbell urged a balanced approach, promoting educational exchanges while protecting national interests. He concluded, “It is actually China that has made it difficult for us to do the activities that we want to continue.”