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Past Event

Do US-China educational exchanges serve American interests?

Past Event

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 provided 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.

Viewers submitted questions via email to or on Twitter using #USChina.


Welcoming remarks

The government and NGO perspective


Richard Stengel

Strategic Advisor - Snap Inc.

Former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs - U.S. Department of State


Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy

Founding Director and Distinguished Scholar - Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

The higher education perspective


Kurt Dirks

Vice Chancellor for International Affairs - Washington University in St. Louis

Director - McDonnell International Scholars Academy


Ted Mitchell

President - American Council on Education

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