On September 28, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong co-chaired the inaugural US- China Social and Cultural Dialogue in Washington D.C. at George Washington University. The SCD is one of the four dialogues launched by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago earlier this year to develop cultural understanding and relations between the two countries. The dialogue focused on seven cooperative areas including education, social development, science and technology, health, subnational, arts and culture, and environment and conservation.
Many influential American and Chinese individuals addressed the audience at The Dialogue, including US Secretary of Transporation, Elaine Chao, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, basketball star Yao Ming, Chinese television personality Yang Lan, and pianist Lang Lang.
Vice Premier Liu emphasized the crucial role young people will have in future social and cultural exchanges. She also announced that China will fund 10,000 scholarships for Americans to come study in China. There are currently 14,000 Americans studying in China, compared to the more than 300,000 Chinese students studying abroad in the US.
“It is easier for the seeds of friendship to take root and burgeon in the hearts of young people. These young people need to pass on, guard, and explore Chinese friendship so that the friendship between our two countries will be carried forward,” said Vice Premier Liu.
As a representative of United States youth at The Dialogue, Austin Lowe, a current graduate student at Georgetown University, discussed the changing diplomatic landscape and its impact on the US-China relationship. He spoke about his experiences as a student studying abroad at Tsinghua University in Beijing and overcoming the preconceived notions in the US-China relationship.
“The Social and Cultural Dialogue served as a testament to the fundamental importance of people-to-people ties in U.S.-China relations. From university classrooms to the White House, active engagement on a personal level is the key to any constructive relationship,” Lowe commented.
Another encouraging announcement was made by The Committee of 100 (C100), an organization of Chinese Americans, in tandem with the SCD. C100 will be launching the “C100 U.S.-China Fulbright Fund,” a $1 million USD fund that will operate under the government’s binational Fulbright program to expand U.S.-China educational exchanges. Project Pengyou has worked closely with the Fulbright committee these past few years in Beijing and we are excited to continue to support the efforts of U.S.-China exchange.
“We’re proud to support such a great program; these educational exchanges are the vanguard of getting to understand U.S.-China relations on an individual level and are the foundation to building bridges between our two countries,” Holly Chang, the Executive Director of C100 and the Founder of Project Pengyou said.
The US-China bilateral relationship is one of the most consequential in the world. The goal of both governments for the Social and Cultural Dialogues is to engage in cultural understanding, break down barriers to build more constructive relationships, and connect citizens from the U.S. and China. We are pleased to see that these talks are continuing, following in footsteps of the US-China Consultation on People to People Exchange (CPE) that began in 2010 with former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and China’s Vice Premier, Liu Yandong.