In recent days, the government has issued two new travel alerts for citizens heading to the US, while state media has ratcheted up its fiery anti-American rhetoric. It is latest indication of Beijing digging in for a prolonged trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The administration of US President Donald Trump raised tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on May 10, and later threatened Chinese technology giant Huawei with a potential export ban.
In response, China increased tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods last Saturday and has pledged to launch other “necessary countermeasures.”
On Tuesday, China’s Culture and Tourism Ministry warned its citizens of the risks of traveling to the US in an alert, citing frequent recent cases of “shooting, robbery and theft.”
On the same day, the country’s Foreign Ministry — along with China’s embassy and consulates in the US — issued a security alert for Chinese citizens, alleging “repeated harassment” of Chinese nationals in the US by local law enforcement officials.
Both notices advise Chinese citizens to “raise safety awareness” in the US, and came shortly after an Education Ministry alert on Monday that warned Chinese students and scholars of the perils of studying in the US due to growing visa issues.
‘Enemy of the world’
The new travel advice did not come in isolation.
China’s ruling Communist Party has launched a trade war propaganda campaign, with recent efforts — delivered via state media — focusing on US “trade bullying” and “hegemony.” In one noteworthy article, published Tuesday in party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, the US was labeled the “enemy of the world.”
While scathing anti-US editorials and commentaries quote everyone from French President Emmanuel Macron to 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith, state media has also begun to reference a very specific and bloody battle between US and Chinese forces during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Stay calm and rational
And of all international students studying at American universities, who contributed $39 billion to the US economy in the 2017-18 academic year, more than a third came from China, according to New York-based NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
With the latest warning from the Education Ministry, some analysts are already predicting a drop in Chinese students attending US universities, while others say much of the anxiety and panic is overblown.
“I can’t speculate on what each government is thinking or may do, but I don’t see any of (the US visa issues) across hundreds of our students,” said Tomer Rothschild, co-founder of Elite Schools of China, an educational consultancy in Beijing that helps about 150 Chinese students enroll in top American universities every year.
“I tell the parents to stay rational and stay calm,” he said.