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When China Comes Knocking At The Ivy League

Reflections on the influx of (mostly) wealthy Chinese students enrolling at New York's Columbia University.

Graduation day at Columbia University on May 20
Graduation day at Columbia University on May 20
Andrej Mrevlje

NEW YORK — Two years ago, Columbia University's student newspaper published what it hoped would be an introspective piece about the growing numbers of Chinese students at the prestigious New York institution. "The China Game" was published in the section of the paper called "The Eye," which was appropriate because the story presented a sort of Chinese version of Hitchcock's Rear Window, a commentary on American society.

In the best narrative tradition of early 18th century Chinese travelers in the West, the piece opens with the remarks of a Chinese undergraduate student who, eager to know more about American society, ventured outside the gates of Columbia's campus on upper Broadway to explore. But in his effort to discover the long-desired splendor of America, what does Andy — the pseudonymous Chinese student — find? His first encounter is with a shabby Chinese food cart selling dumplings and other Chinese staples.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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