The overall framework of education cooperation between China and the United States, and the consensus supporting it, remain unchanged, a senior education official said on Oct 18, damping concerns recent trade tensions could become an impediment.
Chen Dali, director of the Division of American and Oceania Affairs at the Ministry of Education’s Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges, expressed full confidence in China-US education cooperation.
The two sides have decided to renew the Agreement on Educational Cooperation signed in 2000 by the end of this year, Chen said at a forum on 40 years of cooperation in higher education between China and the US hosted by Duke Kunshan University, a China-US partnership formed by Duke University and Wuhan University.
“The agreement has been renewed three times and we will also renew the cooperation memorandum signed by the two sides’ education ministries by the end of this year,” Chen said.
Education cooperation plays an indispensable role in promoting bilateral relations and understanding, he said, adding that in the years they spend studying abroad, students make friends and gain a deep understanding of the other country’s culture and traditions.
He said more than 5 million Chinese students have studied abroad in the past 40 years, with 1.6 million of them going to the US.
China continued to provide the lion’s share of foreign students at US universities in the 2016-17 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit based in New York.
Of the more than 1 million foreign students who enrolled at US universities that year, 350,755－about 35 percent－were Chinese, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier.
Education cooperation with the US has made a significant contribution to China’s education development, with many presidents and professors at Chinese universities who have studied at US universities returning with knowledge and management experience, Chen said.
The US has also benefited greatly from education cooperation, as Chinese students brought around $17 billion in revenue to US universities last year, he said.
“I am very confident in future Sino-US education cooperation, as young people in the US hold a friendlier and more objective view toward China than older generations,” Chen said. They do not care which country is the world’s No 1 and they are concerned more about global issues such as artificial intelligence and global warming, he said.
Denis Simon, executive vice-chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, said there are only nine joint venture universities in operation in China and only three Sino-US joint venture universities.
He said they serve as a beacon of light in the midst of the turbulence currently surrounding US-China relations and provide a true opportunity to establish a foundation for the future.
“The young people we train today will become the ambassadors for our countries in the future,” Simon said. “If they can learn how to get along, communicate and understand each other, it not only holds great potential for bilateral relations, but also for global peace and security in the years ahead.”