Watershed Moment for US-China Exchanges

Feb 2021, President of the China Center for International Education Exchange (CCIEE),former Deputy Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE), LIU Limin, delivered a speech at a hybrid online / offline conference titled “Dialogue, Collaboration, Mitigating Disagreement”. LIU reminisced about the “good times” of Sino-US relations, especially the high points of Talent Exchanges in education, science, culture and sports since 2010. Prior to the current downturn, 14,000 passengers were flying between the two countries daily; every 17 minutes, there was an aircraft taking off / landing on these routes.

At the end of 2019, 430,000 Chinese were studying in the US, and 18,000 Americans were studying in China. Since 2020, a number of long-established exchange programs have ceased, including the long-standing U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers program (launched by the Peace Corps in 1993) and Fulbright Scholarships. There are serious concerns about how this historical nadir will impact the nearly 300 Sino-US joint programs, 29 joint “makers centers” and 1,000+ exchange programs in the K-12 sector sector.  

LIU called for a public effort to help the exchanges in education “return to a normal trajectory”. The conference was organized by the Chinese Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA, also operating as China International Public Relations Association CIPRA). Participants included representatives from Peking University and Renmin University, and a mixture of current and former politicians including Chinese Foreign Minister WANG Yi, former United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. 

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