• The United States is host to approximately 329,000 Chinese students.

The United States is host to approximately 329,000 Chinese students. (Photo : Getty Images News)

The University of California, San Diego, has been on the receiving end of criticisms on Facebook and other social networking sites after it announced that the Dalai Lama will pay the university a visit, the New York Times reported.

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We are honored to host his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and thankful that he will share messages of global compassion,” said UC San Diego’s chancellor, Pradeep Khosla.

Some of the comments expressed alarm over the university inviting an individual considered by the Chinese government as a terrorist.

"Imagine how Americans would feel if someone invited Bin Laden," a comment read. 

One of the most ardent critics of the visit is the university chapter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. The organization even threatened “tough measures” to protest the visit, adding that they already consulted with the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.

The United States is host to approximately 329,000 Chinese students. Some American universities welcome them with open arms, as it’s common for Chinese students to pay tuition in full. Additionally, having a large contingent of Chinese students adds diversity to the student body.

Aside from bringing a dose of Chinese culture, these students also come with the burden of serving as the eyes and ears of the Chinese government.

With the large population of Chinese students in North America, it’s no surprise there are over 150 chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association spread throughout the country.

These groups have worked resolutely with the Chinese government to oppose anti-Chinese speech and push for a pro-Chinese agenda in Western universities. The association has also spread its reach to other countries such as England.

“I basically don’t think that any student organizations that are controlled by their government--which clearly the CSSA is--should have a presence on foreign university campuses,” Jeffrey Henderson, a professor of international development at England’s University of Bristol, told the New York Times.

Leo Yao, the departing president of CSSA’s UC San Diego chapter, was quick to defend the organization.

“So it’s true that we have connections with the consulate, but it’s not the kind of relations that many people say we have,” Yao said.

He added, “They think we represent the Chinese government, that we do things the Chinese government tells us to do, things like that, but that’s not true.”