Education: A New Direction in Sino-US Relations

Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, states in his article on Politico that China and the U.S. should encourage study abroad programs to strengthen ties between young people:

[…A]mid all of the challenges the U.S. and China face and the complex nature of our relationship, the 100,000 Strong Initiative brings a smile to the face of the most hardened interlocutor. The Initiative, launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010, has a very important goal: to enhance the U.S.-China strategic relationship through study abroad. The U.S. and China have many tense areas of negotiation, but both sides agree that people-to-people exchanges are a win-win.

[…] I believe strongly in these goals and so does the secretary, who last week hosted an event to celebrate the creation of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, a new nonprofit, nonpartisan organization borne out of the 100,000 Strong Initiative she launched to generate greater demand, promote diversity and encourage support for programs to study in China and learn Mandarin here at home.

[…] And these two global powers cannot work together unless we understand each other. Currently, there are 10 times more Chinese studying in the U.S. than there are Americans studying in China. And there are 600 times more Chinese who study English than Americans who study Mandarin. The number of young Chinese who are knowledgeable about American politics and popular culture is far greater than the number of young Americans who have even the faintest familiarity with how the Chinese live, do business and govern their society.

We must diversify as well as expand the number of Americans who know about China. As with other essential skills for succeeding in the global economy, opportunities to learn about China must be made available to a cross section of young Americans from every background and walk of life.

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