- U.S.-China Educational Exchange: State, Society, and Intercultural Relations
During recent years, the United States and China have become so interdependent that, in some people's minds, they are now one entity—"Chimerica" (Ferguson and Schularick 2007). This symbiotic relationship is not restricted to the economic arena; it is also reflected in educational exchange. China is now the fifth-most popular destination for international students and the seventh-most popular destination country for American students (Laughlin 2008). By the end of 2009, [End Page 536] China had set up over 282 Confucius Institutes in eighty-eight countries—about sixty of which are located at American universities—to introduce Chinese language and culture to the outside world (Hanban 2010). According to a National Science Foundation report, China is the foremost foreign training ground for doctorate recipients in the United States (China Education and Research Network 2008). A recent report by the Council of Graduate Schools (2010) in the United States shows that admission offers to graduate students from China—the largest sending country—increased by 16 percent in 2010, which marks the sixth consecutive year of double-digit gains.
To understand educational exchange between the United States and China, one has to know the historical context, and U.S.-China Educational Exchange written by Hongshan Li provides thorough information on this subject. This book focuses on government-sponsored educational exchanges between the United States and China from 1905 to 1950. This period witnessed both the rapid expansion and sudden termination of United States–China educational exchange, thus making it an interesting time for studying United States–China relations. This book provides an overview of the vicissitudes in educational exchange between the United States and China during the first half of the twentieth century. During the early years of the twentieth century, Japan was the first choice for Chinese students not only because of its adjacency to China, but also because China was mostly under its influence, the result of Japan's success on the battlefield and of shared Confucian values. According to Porter (1990), Japan's influence reached its peak in 1911. However, through the 1930s and 1940s, the United States held more influence over China, and by the beginning of World War II, the United States had become China's chief partner in educational exchange. This partnership continued to develop during the war. As the book points out, "By the end of the 1940s, China had sent more students and scholars to the United States than to any other country for higher education and advanced training" (p. 1). The 1950s put an end to United States–China relations, including educational relations, as the United States and China fought in the Korean War (1950–1953) as adversaries. United States–China education exchange gradually resumed as diplomatic relations were reestablished at the end of the 1970s.
According to the book, two events accelerated the development of the United States–China educational exchange between 1905 and 1950. The first event was the abolition of the traditional civil service examination system in 1905. This system, which exclusively tested students on Confucian classics, was considered the greatest obstacle to developing modern schools: As long as officials were selected through the traditional examination as a way of rewarding students, it would be almost impossible for modern schools to have wide support from students. If the abolition of the traditional exam system removed the institutional barriers to United States–China educational exchange, the remission of the Boxer Indemnity provided financial resources needed for such exchanges. After the invasion of [End Page 537] China by the eight allied forces of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Russia, Japan, Italy, and Austria between 1900 and 1901, China was forced to pay 450 million taels to these eight countries as a compensation for their losses in the war. This payment is called the Boxer Indemnity. The United States received 32,939,055 taels (an equivalent of $25 million), accounting for about 7.32 percent of...