Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. (Photo/fmprc.gov.cn)
China on Tuesday asked the United States to view people-to-people exchanges between the two countries in a rational way as such exchanges have facilitated mutual understanding and the steady development of bilateral ties.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying spoke at a regular news briefing in response to a U.S. media report that the University of North Texas had cut ties with the China Scholarship Council and told all Chinese researchers funded by the council to leave the country.
The researchers were notified on Aug 26 in a letter that also stipulated they must be accompanied during any campus visit before they departed, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported on Monday.
"If it turned out to be true, the case would be another illustration of the U.S. sabotaging people-to-people exchanges between the two countries for some time," Hua said, adding that she noticed that the news has already drawn concern and criticism from some people in the U.S.
By Monday evening, an online petition asking the university to rescind the move had received nearly 4,000 signatures in three days, the Denton Record-Chronicle said.
Hua said Chinese students and researchers in the U.S. also have made important contributions to its scientific and technological innovation and its economic development.
China has been the largest source of international students for the U.S. in the past decade. Chinese students account for one-third of the nation's international students, contributing $15 billion in tuition in 2018.
Hua called it a pity that, out of their own political interests and desire to contain China, some extremist anti-China forces in the U.S. have fabricated countless lies to smear and demonize Chinese students. They have even abused judicial power in using pretexts to act against Chinese students.
"I don't know how many Chinese parents will feel assured in sending their children to study in the U.S. under such circumstances," she said.
The spokeswoman said that China hopes the U.S. will do more to promote mutual understanding. If the U.S. decides to go further down the wrong path, its own interests will be harmed, she added.
In another development, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump is weighing more curbs on Chinese students studying in the U.S.. He added that the administration is weighing new actions in the coming weeks and months.