Over the past half-century, people-to-people ties have served as the core of the U.S.-China relationship, forming bonds across the Pacific that have endured ups and downs. Yet events over the past several years — a trade war, political tensions, concerns about espionage and influence activities, rising incidents of anti-Asian racism, and a global pandemic — have fomented distrust on both sides of the Pacific. After years of increasing numbers of Chinese students and researchers coming to the United States, the trend has reversed. For some, this shift toward declining numbers of Chinese students and researchers was an overdue correction to better protect America against threats from China and prevent China from capitalizing on American know-how to accelerate its own progress. For others, the reduction in educational exchanges has led to irreplaceable economic losses and missed opportunities to elevate academic discourse and advance people-to-people connections. In this evolving environment, serious discourse is needed to discern the risks and benefits of past and present educational exchanges and determine what policy adjustments might best advance American interests in the years to come.
On April 12, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings will provide a venue for American policymakers and education administrators to offer perspectives on the current state of U.S.-China educational exchanges and the future direction of such programs.
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