Advocating for international education and exchange in times of turbulent relations with China

Marlene Johnson, President Emerita of NAFSA; Jinzhao Li, Professor, Beijing Foreign Studies University; Hongxia Liu, Representative and Director, International Organizations, New York University Shanghai; and John L. Holden, President & CEO, US-China Strong Foundation.

During this time of tense relations between the U.S. and China, academic partnerships may prove to be the premier avenue for bilateral cooperation.

The role of international education and exchange amidst strained U.S.-China relations was the focus of the November 13 program co-hosted by US-China Education Trust and Meridian International Center on Meridian’s campus as part of the official kickoff of International Education Week. Audience members from local and international high schools and universities, government agencies, think tanks, consulting firms and a Fulbright delegation from China listened and contributed to an engaging conversation that stressed the need for continued international exchange as a means for public diplomacy.

Welcome remarks by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of Meridian International Center, and Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, Founder and President of US-China Education Trust set the tone for a series of substantive remarks and panel discussions. As the pressure mounts between the U.S. and China on topics from trade relations to the South China Sea, exchange at the people-to-people level remains a means for the strengthening of ties and resolution of conflict between the two countries.

Former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine underlined the need for authentic international dialogue and exchange for a world that is “safer, more secure, more prosperous, and more peaceful.”

Moderated by Hank Levine, Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group, the first panel discussed the resumption of the Fulbright program. Meirong Fu, Director of Beijing Foreign Studies University’s American Studies Center, and Mary Ellen Schmider, Director of the Fulbright Association, provided individual opening remarks and examined the impact of Fulbright programs on both sides of scholarly exchange between countries.

The program concluded with an hour-long discussion with Jinzhao Li of Beijing Foreign Studies University, Hongxia Liu, Representative and Director of International Organizations at NYU Shanghai, John L. Holden, President & CEO of US-China Strong Foundation, and moderator Marlene Johnson, President Emerita of NAFSA. The panel examined the impact of education and exchange specifically on US-China relations. During a comprehensive discussion, the panelists addressed the decline of Chinese students studying abroad in the United States, the need for more international study and exchange by American students in China, and the role of a global education.

Project summary

Advocating for international education and exchange in times of turbulent relations with China | November 2018
Number of Attendees: 65
Regions: East Asia and Pacific, Western Hemisphere
Countries: China, United States
Impact Areas: Education, Public Diplomacy
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: NGOs