Language training lays solid foundation for future US-China relations, say educators

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-5-2 22:18:01

Encouraging more US students to study Chinese and study abroad in China will ensure Sino-US relationship grows and flourishes in the future, US educators have said.

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

The 1-Million-Strong Initiative, announced by US President Barack Obama in September, is aimed at encouraging 1 million US students to learn Putonghua in elementary and high schools by 2020.

"The US-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."

Tanner, who himself is a fluent Putonghua speaker, told Xinhua 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 aimed at universities, was launched by 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."

This is a commentary from the Xinhua News Agency. The article first appeared on Xinhua.

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