Cultural exchanges between China, US flourish

Cultural exchanges between China, US flourish

After China and the US established formal diplomatic relations, Deng Xiaoping decided to send more Chinese students to America. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Chinese students have flocked to the U.S. colleges and universities, helping to drive the number of international students studying in America to 235,000.

The "2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange," an annual survey of study abroad trends for the U.S. and international students, found the number of international students studying in the U.S. has been rising for nearly a decade. There are now 40 percent more international students studying in the U.S. than 10 years ago, according to a report by the Institute of International Education. Most significantly, the number of Chinese students that enrolled in the U.S. colleges and universities increased by 21 percent during this period.

In November 2009, President Barack Obama announced the “100,000 Strong” initiative, a national effort designed to increase dramatically the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched the initiative in May 2010 in Beijing. The Chinese government supports the initiative and has already committed 10,000 “Bridge Scholarships” for American students to study in China.

In the 2011/12 academic year, 283,332 American students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of 3 percent. Based on the slow but fairly steady increase in Open Doors numbers, American students have shown a strong interest in gaining international experience. Open Doors also reported that 36 campuses had undergraduate study abroad participation rates of more than 70 percent of their student body. China is one of the most popular choices among those American students. Currently, hundreds of overseas projects for English-speaking students have been established in China, in the areas including language, art, medicine, culture, history and business.

In addition to study, diverse lifestyles and career opportunities after graduation are also major factors to attract foreign students. It could be a great professional choice for a young American looking for a fresh career start in China instead of a slowly recovering domestic job market

International education promotes relationship building and knowledge exchange between people and communities in China and around the world that are necessary to solve global challenges. The mutual understanding built today will certainly lead to deeper Sino-US cooperation in the future.

Cultural diplomacy

Since the establishment of bilateral relations in 1979, cultural exchanges have played an important role in people-to-people engagement between China and the U.S.

One of the first public hints of a Sino-US rapprochement came on April 6, 1971, when the American Ping Pong team, in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, received a surprise invitation from their Chinese counterparts for a visit to the People's Republic. Time magazine called it "The ping heard round the world."

In today's world, the international situation is, on the whole, moving towards peace and cooperation. The two big powers are working together to build a new type of relationship. Under these circumstances, it is indisputable that the increase of cultural exchanges between China and the US would be helpful to enhance mutual trust and eliminate the differences between the two sides.

From Disney's 1998 animated feature "Mulan" to DreamWorks' 2011 hit "Kung Fu Panda 2," Hollywood blockbusters have been enjoying success through their use of Chinese elements. Moreover, before the 1980s, the average Chinese had almost no contact with American movies and western lifestyle. In the wake of the reform and opening-up in 1979, “The Man from Atlantis” became the first American show to be broadcast on China’s national television. The sci-fi fantasy was only marginally successful in America, but it was a massive hit in China.

Twenty years later, just like everywhere else in the world, the Internet has completely transformed the way the Chinese access information and entertainment. With just a few clicks, a Chinese viewer has the whole world of American entertainment at his fingertips. American TV series have gained popularity among the young generation. US TV series, from Friends in the 1990s to the recent The Big Bang Theory that features awkward yet funny characters, provide Chinese audiences a vivid way to know about the outside world and illustrate popular US culture. An invisible, formative influence of mutual understanding is built and integrated into the audience's daily lives.

On the other hand, both Washington and Beijing have put a lot of time and effort into cultural exchange promotion. Named after ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions aligned with the Government of the China that aim to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges.

Founded in 2004, Confucius Institutes had established more than 300 on-campus class locations worldwide. During these years, most Confucius Institutes have entered into partnerships with local universities to promote Chinese culture and language in a more efficient way. The institutes in the US serve citizens of all trades and professions. Professor McKenzi of the US Defense Language Institute indicated that many federal government employees also chose to study Chinese language at Confucius Institutes at University of Maryland.

The Institute’s activities center on offering Chinese language classes, promoting understanding of China and its culture through a range of lectures and other events, and providing training and other support for businesses and schools. Their distinctive focus is on understanding contemporary Chinese society and culture, and promoting understanding between young people in America and China.

At the same time, the Embassy of the United States in Beijing has also set up the Beijing American Center (BAC) for cultural and educational exchanges between China and the U.S. The Center organizes a diverse range of cultural activities.

In short, culture exchanges have become an important way of understanding each other and promoting cooperation between both sides.
















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