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Asia Society Global Education Efforts and Chinese Language Initiatives Recognized at U.S.-China Dialogue in Beijing

BEIJING, June 10, 2016 — Asia Society’s work in global education was recognized this week at the annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in Beijing. Co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, this annual event focuses on bilateral exchanges in the areas of education, culture, health, women issues, science and technology, and sports. The official pronouncements by both the U.S. and China (read more here) highlight Asia Society’s decade-long effort in making Mandarin learning more mainstream among American students, along with efforts by the Ford Foundation and Schwarzman Scholars and the US-China Strong Foundation, with whom Asia Society announced a partnership to advance Mandarin language instruction in the United States. The event is held in conjunction with the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where a few dozen ministerial/cabinet level officials gather to share views on the bilateral relationship. “Cooperation between our educational institutions continues to expand, helping to generate the knowledge we need to solve global challenges,” reads the State Department fact sheet on the discussions. Also expressed in the discussions was “our support for Chinese and English language learning and its importance as a foundation for broadening people-to-people cooperation across all aspects of our relationship.”

In stark contrast to the issues dominating the Strategic and Economic Dialogue—such as the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula and global terrorism—the conversations around people-to-people exchange were overwhelmingly positive. The two countries’ leaders discussed ways to secure more resources for their young people to learn each other’s language, to ensure best practices in public health are shared across the Pacific and globally, to create a joint MakersFest for brilliant and curious minds from both countries, and more. Secretary Kerry remarked that people-to-people exchange “is the best of diplomacy…is what diplomacy is all about…is how we change the world and this is how we change relationships between countries.”

Asia Society was also invited to participate in the inaugural U.S.-China Education Think Tank Dialogue, themed around education research, policymaking and innovation in the knowledge-based economy, a set of issues in which Asia Society has developed deep expertise through many years' of research and evidence-based work in preparing students to be globally competent in a global world.