In the first episode of Heartland Mainland, we dive into the impact Chinese students have had at Iowa’s largest universities — and how these tangled ties reverberate all the way up to the White House. During the 2008 financial crisis, large public universities around the country began turning to Chinese students’ tuition dollars for revenue. That turned hundreds of thousands of Chinese and American 18-year-olds into roommates.
But as tensions between the US and China heat up, those same Chinese students have turned into a political football between the two superpowers. The Chinese government hopes these students will bring their newly acquired skills back home, while many in the US government see them as spies intent on stealing American intellectual property.
How did we get here? How did Chinese students in Iowa land in the middle of an Oval Office debate about national security?
In this episode, you’ll hear from Chinese students, their American classmates, university administrators, and US diplomats.