Germany alleging risk of spying with Chinese scholarship student
Allegations around risks of scientific espionage prompted Germany's education minister to ask for a rethink of student exchange policies with China.
Germany's education minister called for a review of student exchange policies with China on Saturday, citing an alleged increased risk of scientific espionage presented by Chinese students studying in Germany on full state scholarships.
"China is becoming more and more competitive and is a systemic rival in the domain of science and research," Bettina Stark-Watzinger said in an interview published on Saturday by the Mediengruppe Bayern.
The minister applauded the decision of the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) in Bavaria, which routinely collaborates with German industry on research initiatives, to no longer admit Chinese students whose entire funding comes from the China Scholarship Council (CSC), a governmental entity.
According to recent allegations in Deutsche Welle and the investigative website Correctiv, winners of these scholarships must take a loyalty oath to the Chinese government or face legal action.
Stark-Watzinger praised the German university's decision, saying it was motivated by "the realization that the CSC scholarship recipients' freedom of opinion and scientific freedom, which are anchored in German Basic Law, cannot be fully exercised due to the conditions of their scholarships, and there is also an increased risk of scientific espionage."
She said that "The FAU decision should prompt other institutions to revisit the terms of their cooperation with the CSC."
Germany tightened its stance toward China in mid-July, unveiling a 64-page policy in response to a "more assertive" China.
The paper, which covers security policy as well as economic and scientific collaboration, was the result of months of debate inside the German government about Germany's approach to China.
Furthermore, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted on Thursday that Berlin had "reacted to a China that has changed and become more assertive," and that his administration wished to lessen Germany's economic dependency on Beijing in vital areas.
According to Beijing, the new strategy will create "man-made risks" and "exacerbate divisions" around the world.
Berlin's tougher stance has alarmed German business, which has become increasingly reliant on China. In recent months, corporate behemoths such as Volkswagen and Siemens have revealed growth strategies that mainly rely on the Chinese market.