Educational exchange has long enriched U.S.-China relations

2019-11-22 China Daily Global Editor:Mo Hong'e

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who played an important role of early educational exchanges between China and U.S. sent a congratulatory letter to Chinese Embassy in Washington and The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State to congratulate them on organizing commemoration of the 40 anniversary of the U.S.-China Student Exchange.(Photo provided to China Daily)

In 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping made a strategic decision to send 3,000 students and scholars from China overseas each year to further their educations.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter later famously said on July 10 that year: "Tell him (Deng) to send 100,000."

The initial group of 52 scholars left China for the U.S. on Dec 26, 1978, for a two-year stay, according to John C. Thomson, who worked in the American embassy in Beijing to help restore U.S.-China educational exchanges after a 30-year hiatus.

The next year, eight American students were sent to China.

"By the time I left Beijing in 1981, I was delighted to see over 8,000 Chinese scholars and students studying in the U.S., hundreds of U.S. scholars and students in China, and over 80 sister-school cooperation agreements," Thomson told China Daily. "This was the beginning of rapid growth in an important component of the U.S.-PRC relationship: the exchange of scholars, students and scientific knowledge. Both the U.S. and China have benefitted from the enormous increase in personal interaction and friendships, and awareness of each other's society, economy, government, environment and culture."

In a letter sent to the Chinese embassy ahead of the Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of U.S.-China Student Exchanges on Nov 21, Jimmy Carter wrote:

"The academic and scientific exchange between our countries is an important way to create a better understanding of one another while also advancing our collective knowledge about nature, life and climate."

In the 2018-19 school year, the number of higher education students from China in the U.S. was 369,548, comprising 33.7 percent of the 1.09 million international students in the U.S., according to the 2019 Open Doors Annual Data Release on Monday in Washington.

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