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China Continues Harassing Students in North America and Europe, Report Finds

Following in-depth interviews with 32 Chinese students studying at universities in eight countries.

China is tracking and intimidating students studying in Europe and North America overseas as well as their family members who are still based out of China, according to a new report.

"The testimonies gathered in this report paint a chilling picture of how the Chinese and Hong Kong governments seek to silence students even when they are thousands of miles from home, leaving many students living in fear," Amnesty International's China Director Sarah Brooks said Monday in an announcement about her agency's report.

China has a long history of tracking and intimidating international students, and the communist country does not appear to be letting up on it.

Amnesty International interviewed 32 Chinese students studying at universities in eight countries, and a third of the students said that Chinese officials had harassed their families to prevent them from criticizing China while living overseas. The threats included getting the family members fired from their jobs, preventing them from receiving their retirement benefits and even limiting their physical freedom, per the report.

Nearly half of those interviewed said they had been photographed or recorded at events by people they believe to be connected to the Chinese government, although they could not prove that the individuals were.

Additionally, nearly half of the students said they feared returning home and six of them said they planned on applying for political asylum after finishing their degree out of concerns that they would be persecuted in China.

Amnesty sent a letter to 55 universities in North America and Europe asking about steps they are taking to protect their Chinese students, and less than half gave substantive responses, according to the agency.

"Universities in Europe and North America are often unaware of, and ill-equipped to deal with, transnational repression and the resulting chilling effect taking place on their campuses," Brooks also said.

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