Chinese Colleges Cut North Korean Admissions, Place Students under Surveillance

Chinese Colleges Cut North Korean Admissions, Place Students under Surveillance
AP Photo/ Wong Maye-EAsia & Pacific01:17 21.09.2017(updated 01:51 21.09.2017) Get short URL

In the aftermath of the latest nuclear and missile tests conducted by Pyongyang, Chinese universities have restricted their admission of North Korean students, primarily turning away those specializing in physics or material science.

Several college enrolment officials have reported that amid escalating tensions in the region, China has taken steps to reduce the number of North Korean students within its borders, particularly targeting those seeking to major in hard sciences.

The recruiters told the South China Morning Post that the instructions to reject applications from North Korean students come from the government, although they did not specify at what level the orders were made.

An official at a college in Beijing also said that each of the North Korean students already on campus has been placed under surveillance “to prevent them from obtaining sensitive materials.” He added that his institution hoped to freeze all North Korean enrolment as it brought “trouble” to the university.

Another enrolment official at the military-affiliated Harbin University of Science and Technology said the university had received diplomatic complaints from North Korea over its strict policy of blacklisting every scholarship application from the troubled neighboring state. He claimed that the policy existed even before Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test earlier in September, but admitted that since the test the school has received numerous phone calls from central government officials in Beijing.

“We assured our supervisors that the number [of North Korean students in the university] was zero. Over the years we have strictly carried out relevant instructions from above,” he said, adding that North Korea is not the only country on the “blacklist.”

Four years ago, Beijing launched a programme to train North Korean scientists, providing full scholarships for doctoral programmes in selected disciplines, some at sensitive research institutes.

A Beijing-based researcher told the South China Morning Post that the initiative was a mistake, comparing the Chinese government with “a man raising a rock to drop it on his own toes.”