U.S.-China Consultation on People-To-People Exchange underway at State

In her opening remarks at the Second Annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-To-People Exchange, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale outlined three goals for this two-day summit in Washington.

First, McHale said, the Department of State and its Chinese counterparts hope to “define more ways to strengthen the vital relationship between China and the United States in education.” This goal includes promoting the 100,000 Strong Initiative to expand opportunities for more Americans to study in China, as well as building the U.S.-China Fulbright Program (for example, sponsoring an ECA pilot program to bring more Chinese students to pursue masters degrees at top-level graduate programs in the U.S.).

Second, McHale hopes to “expand our people-to-people exchanges…through cultural and sports diplomacy. These are areas where we can do the most to reach out to young audiences and underserved populations we might not otherwise be able to engage.”

And third, the summit will focus on a “new thematic area” in the U.S-China relationship: women’s issues, including the announcement of the “U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue.”

In her remarks, McHale extolled the importance of a strong and robust U.S.-China relationship to addressing global challenges:

“The partnership between China and the United States is too important to exist on paper only. It needs to exist in a very real way to people in markets and schools and labs and noodle shops across both our nations. Only then can we make progress on any of the global challenges that will require our cooperation and explore the untold opportunities of this new age.”

McHale also directly linked the creation of people-to-people connections with governments that “protect the freedom and dignity” of citizens and “uphold human rights”:

“People-to-people connections are built on the free exchange of ideas and honest interactions between individual citizens. Governments are responsible for creating an environment in which these exchanges can happen in good faith. But when human rights activists and intellectuals and artists fear arbitrary arrest or forced detention, or when education and cultural programs are abruptly canceled as a sign of displeasure, that good faith is undermined, and all the positive momentum our nations have built is slowed. Creating lasting bonds between our people starts with protecting the freedoms and the dignity of every human being. And upholding these universal rights will ultimately make every nation, including China and the United States, more prosperous and more successful.”

McHale’s full remarks are available on the Department of State website.