Rep. Carnahan: Exchange programs vital for U.S. foreign policy, relations with China

Public diplomacy programs, including exchanges, are “a critical and indispensible component” of U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with China, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) stated at a recent hearing examining “The Price of Public Diplomacy with China.”

During his opening remarks at this gathering of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Rep. Carnahan said:

"Student exchanges continue to be one of the best ways to advance our interests. Young people and students can be some of our best diplomats.”

“Current estimates show that ten times as many Chinese students study in the U.S. compared to the number of American students studying in China. Efforts to increase American students studying in China, such as the ‘100,000 Strong Initiative,’ will help foster a greater understanding of American culture, as well as those students bringing back better knowledge of China.”

Carnahan further listed the establishment of American corners at public and private libraries in China, as well as joint-degree programs with Chinese universities, as additional examples of valuable public diplomacy efforts with China that help “[bring] American culture and values to China.”

During the Q&A section of the hearing, Carnahan noted that exchange programs have seen strong bipartisan support in Congress and asked the present witnesses to talk about exchange programs in China, as well as ways in which the U.S. can encourage more American students to go to China.

Robert Daly, Director of the Maryland China Initiative at the University of Maryland, said that exchange programs, such as the 100,000 Strong Initiative, provide American students with the opportunity to both experience and learn about Chinese culture and to improve their Chinese language skills. He noted that in addition to study abroad, the U.S. especially needs to ensure K-12 Chinese language instruction in U.S. public schools so that Americans in all professions can speak the Chinese language.

Daly’s full testimony as submitted for the record, which focuses mainly on China’s public diplomacy efforts in the U.S., including Confucius Institutes on American campuses and the use of Chinese media, can be accessed here.