Today the US State Department issued an updated travel advisory about China.
1. How does this affect education efforts?
It makes it a bit harder to recruit American teachers to go to China.
I faced the same challenge in recruiting educators for work in Kenya, with the State Department warning about terrorism there.
2. How much is really “new”?
The warning “Level 2” has not changed today.
In its previous travel advisory for China issued on Jan. 22 last year, the State Department urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” in the country because of “the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”
The latest advisory repeats that warning but adds: “Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.”
The advisory also warns about China’s use of “exit bans” that would prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving the country, sometimes keeping them in China for years.
3. Perception is Reality
While the State Department policy is still quite similar, most US media outlets are running with the story as being a major change.
Imagine Teacher Sue, in Indiana, thinking about teaching in China next September. Her dad emails her today’s news and asks her to reconsider. Neither has ever been to China before, so it sounds scary.
I’d guess this helps VIPKid and other online teacher connectors. The scarcity of in-person American teachers in China should raise the value of the closest substitutes, whether they are New Zealand in-person teachers or American teachers online.