Chinese Language Education Lays Solid Foundation for Future U.S.-China Relations


CHICAGO, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Encouraging more American students to study Chinese and study abroad in China will ensure Sino-American relationship grows and flourishes in the future, U.S. educators have said.

"The goal is to strengthen the overall U.S.-China relationship by ensuring very strong people-to-people ties," said Travis Tanner, vice president of 100,000-Strong Initiative Foundation, a non-profit U.S.organization that leads the Chinese language education initiative called "1 Million Strong."

The 1-Million-Strong Initiative, announced by U.S. President Barack Obama last September, is aimed at encouraging one million American students to learn Mandarin Chinese in elementary and high schools by 2020.

1m1"The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century," Josette Sheeran, President and CEO of the Asia Society, said on Thursday. "Now is China's moment in the world to emerge, and the language is key to understand not only China's today, but also China's history, and the way it thinks."

She noted that the Asia Society has partnerships with Confucius Institutes in the United States along with a Chinese language learning network in 100 districts and 28 states throughout the country.

Tanner, who himself is a fluent Mandarin speaker, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Saturday that the 1-Million-Strong Initiative also includes expanding the number of Americans studying abroad in China.

"We envision a future where the next generation of American leaders is very China savvy and can manage the bilateral relationship in a very constructive way," said Tanner.

The 100,000-Strong Initiative, mainly for universities, was launched by President Obama in 2009 with an aim to increase to 100,000 the cumulative number of Americans studying in China over a five-year period. The goal was achieved in 2014.

Tanner, who also oversaw the 100,000-Strong Initiative, said that Americans who had been exchange students in China always describe experiences in China as "life-transforming."

"Perspectives are changed, viewpoints are opened, new friendships are developed, these are all very positive developments that will help ensure that the future generation of Americans can understand China as well as the importance of U.S.-China relationship," he said. 

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