SHANGHAI and Beijing are the most popular destinations for Americans seeking to study on China's mainland, a United States official said yesterday in Shanghai during a visit to promote a program to put more US students in China.
The ongoing 100,000 Strong Initiative announced by US President Barack Obama in late 2009 aims to provide financial aid to facilitate 100,000 Americans studying in China in the four years starting in May 2010. The targeted group includes Americans wishing to learn Mandarin and understand Chinese culture, and includes American college students, teachers and administrators.
The US government is using the program to further strengthen the people-to-people ties between the two countries. But the scholarships are all donated by private companies and agencies.
"We are seeking to increase the number and diversify the composition of Americans studying in China (through the program)," said Carola McGiffert, senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for East Asian & Pacific Affairs.
The latest US official report showed that by end of the 2009-2010 academic year, about 14,000 Americans students were studying in China. While an updated figure for the past year will not be available for months, McGiffert said the US authority was confident it would show a substantial increase due to this program.
McGiffert said about US$14 million had been raised so far to benefit students through various kinds of scholarships. This did not include assistance from the Chinese side; the Chinese government had already pledged to offer 20,000 scholarships to Americans to back up the initiative.
There are nearly 160,000 Chinese students in the US, swamping the number of Americans in educational programs in China. Despite the big gap, Americans are showing growing interest in learning Mandarin and studying in China, according to McGiffert.