By the end of 2014, hopefully a total of 100,000 American students will have traveled across the Pacific Ocean to study in China since 2010, an unprecedented number pushed by the US government through its 100,000 Strong Initiative, an effort to dramatically increase the number and diversity of American students in China. If successful, the initiative would be a great feat given the current economic climate that has seen serious cuts to educational funding and a subdued interest in study abroad in the US.
“We are confident we will reach – and perhaps surpass – the 100,000 mark by the end of 2014,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which has been leading the national movement of strengthening the US-China relations through study abroad and Chinese learning since 2013.
The initiative, first announced by President Barack Obama in 2009, was officially launched in May 2010 by the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton together with the then Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong in Beijing. Though it is started by the US Department of State, it is more or less a “US-China bilateral effort”, as McGiffert put it. China has been very supportive of the initiative and offered a total of 20,000 scholarships for the US students to study in China.
Sources said that in 2013 alone, about 5,500 US students came to China on Chinese government scholarships, accounting for more than 25% of all American students who came to China last year, which was about 20,000, according to the State Department.