Anecdotal reports suggest that both the United States and China are increasing restrictions on travel by educators between the countries. Some experts worry about the effect those actions could have on understanding between the world's two largest economies.

In recent weeks, news media have reported on how some professors and researchers learned they would no longer be able to travel freely between the two countries. These academics have been making such trips for many years, but are no longer permitted to do so.

One Chinese scholar was stopped by U.S. federal agents at Los Angeles International Airport in January as he prepared to return to Beijing. The New York Times reported that the agents took his passport. Then the officials cancelled the 10-year visa that he had used to travel freely between the countries.

Michael Pillsbury works for the Hudson Institute and has advised the Trump administration on China policy. He completed a visa request so he could attend a conference in Beijing. Last week, he told the Axios website that the Chinese embassy in Washington delayed action on his visa for so long that he was unable to attend.

There are no available records that show exactly how many Chinese and U.S. academics have been denied visas in the recent past. But people who study relations between the countries claim the rate of denials has risen sharply.

Visa denials are not a new thing for either country, but in the past, most of the denials have been one-way. China has long barred scholars from visiting the country when they have written books critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

This time, however, the push for more visa denials appears to be coming from the U.S. government. U.S. officials worry about the Chinese government's power to force non-government officials into gathering information for its own state intelligence services.

Recently, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center confirmed that it had dismissed two Chinese researchers and were planning to dismiss a third person. The move followed an investigation that suggested they had been involved in efforts to steal records related to government-supported research.

Some experts worry that the number of people and organizations that are prevented from traveling between the U.S. and China will keep increasing.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

anecdotal (adj.) - based on unscientific reports or observations

  • I enjoyed the book's anecdotal style.

permit (v.) -  to allow (something) to happen : to give permission for (something)

  • Smoking is not permitted in the building.

deny (v.) - to refuse to give (something) to someone : to prevent someone from having or receiving (something)

  • The judge denied their request.

intelligence (n.) -  secret information that a government collects about an enemy or possible enemy

  • He was gathering intelligence about a neighboring country's activities.


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. What happened to one Chinese scholar at the Los Angeles airport?

2. Why was Michael Pillsbury not able to attend a conference in Beijing?

3. Why were some people barred from traveling from China to the US in the past?

4. Why were some Chinese researchers dismissed from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center?



Exercise 3

Make a sentence

Make sentences using these words.

anecdotal, permit, deny, intelligence


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think of the fact that many researchers are denied visa for the US/China?

2. How will this situation develop in the future in your opnion?

3. Why is it important for researchers to travel?

4. Have you ever applied for a visa?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.